Washington Smoke Map

*The map above is not able to display all state air quality monitors. Click here to see all monitors in Washington: WA Ecology Air Monitors

Note: Some users might notice intermittent discrepancies in colors shown on the map of air quality monitors above, and those reported on the Department of Ecology's official page. This is because Ecology believes their method of calculating the air quality category (i.e. “Good”, “Moderate”, Unhealthy” etc) is more protective of public health in Washington. If in doubt as to which better represents public health risk, use the more stringent of the two (i.e. the map showing worse air quality).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Expect smoke in eastern Washington, western WA just about escapes a dose

Smoke in the Methow valley and lower Yakima county is in the process of dissipating over the next few hours as north winds pick up speed. Air quality should be mostly Good around the state through the day, but splotches of Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups will return tonight, mostly around Mazama, Winthrop, White Swan, Toppenish, Sunnyside, Hunters and Davenport.

While strong winds blow away the smoke, they have their own agenda:

Some forecast models suggest Canadian wildfire smoke will get caught up in the northerly winds tonight. Winds are expected to shift to the east briefly, bringing this smoke perilously close to the Cascade crest. But this flow pattern is unlikely to persist for long enough to push smoke into western WA. Neither are they likely to blow smoke from fires in western Montana, all the way to far eastern Washington.

Tuesday should see a lighter winds so smoke impacts will be mostly near the fires. Expect Good air statewide with a few areas of Moderate overnight into Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7/18/2017 Smoke in Northern WA coming in from large BC fires

The smoke issues we are seeing in parts of Washington are due to large areas of wildfire to the north of us in British Columbia where 40,000 people have been forced from their homes. Our blog map shows the widespread fire detects obtained from satellites (zoom out on the blog map or click on the link below it that says "full map"). They may get some rain by Thursday. All the best to our northern neighbors.

Some news on the fires here:

More smoke in north Central WA than expected

Contrary to expectations, some smoke from BC wildfires did mix down to the surface yesterday. Air quality hovered between Moderate and Unhealthy at several locations in northern Washington since Monday morning.

Here's the satellite picture from Monday afternoon. White streaks are clouds, light grey patches are smoke and red dots are fire locations.

Not expecting a strong wind shift through Wednesday evening, so northern WA should continue to see more of the same today, although smoke in northern Whatcom county could start clearing sooner. Air quality in many communities of northern Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille could degrade to Unhealthy levels today and tomorrow. Some marginal relief is possible in a few areas tonight.

Winds pick up and change direction by Wednesday night but this is a mixed blessing because it brings the risk of dry lightning, which could mean new wildfires. A Red Flag Warning has been issued to address this. Blowing dust on Thursday morning is likely across the Columbia Basin.

Monday, July 17, 2017

More fires and a little more smoke

Numerous fires burning in eastern WA, the largest of which is the Snake River fire near Pomeroy. Air quality in the Lewis- Clark valley has been poor over the last two days and is likely to hover between Moderate and USG over the next few days.

The NOAA HMS Fire and Smoke satellite image shows light smoke from Canadian and Alaskan wildfires over Washington state, but most of it remains aloft. Not expecting strong downward mixing this week so very unlikely that we'll have to inhale much of it. And no, it wont be dense enough to cause spectacular sunsets.

Light north winds are expected across the Columbia Basin today, meaning smoke is likely to drift into the basin. Winds will be driven by daytime heating/ nighttime cooling through Wednesday so not expecting smoke to travel very far from its original sources. Air quality should be mostly Good statewide, except close to fires when periods of Moderate and USG can be expected overnight, with some clearing during the day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Living Dangerously in the Era of Megafires - TED Talk

Many of you may have seen the recent presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg on the Era of Megafires.  In this presentation, Dr. Hessburg provides an explanation of why wildfires have been growing in the the western united states.  Recently, a condensed version of the presentation was made into a Ted Talk which is now on Youtube.  Its called Living Dangerously in the Era of Megafires.  You can search for it by title on Youtube or access it by clicking this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edDZNkm8Mas&t=14s.   Or to see it in person, check out the schedule from North 40 Productions website at http://www.north40productions.com/wildfire.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

BC wildfire smoke still affecting north central WA

The Methow Valley is very hazy as shown by the Sun Mountain Lodge webcam.

Pollution levels spiked in many areas in and around over Okanogan county today and has commenced its slow daytime decline.

The fire in British Columbia mentioned in the previous post continues to be the culprit, with smoke mixing to the surface when the overnight temperature inversion breaks. The satellite picture this morning shows smoke pouring down the Okanogan river valley.

Air quality in the area is expected to vary between Moderate and Unhealthy in the area with a slow improvement over the rest of today. Winds are expected to shift to the southwest and help return the smoke back to Canada with a "no thank you" note. But smoke lodged in more sheltered valleys might have a harder time getting scrubbed out, so expect areas of Moderate to USG to persist until tomorrow.

Rest of the state should see mostly Good air for the next few days, except close to some fires where Moderate or USG conditions can be expected during overnight hours.