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
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
Some news on the fires here:
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
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
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
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.