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).


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Predictions for the 2016 Fire Season

Every year, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, ID, tracks large scale weather patterns and predicts whether the coming fire season will be below normal, normal, or above normal across the U.S.  http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf
(These are only predictions though, and the actual severity of the fire season will depend on factors that are less predictable months in advance such as lightning occurrence and winds.)
7 day significant fire potential for Pacific NW
Fire Potential: Large fire potential remains low for the moment but will rise over the weekend and next week as the weather pattern undergoes a major shift. Consistently warmer and drier weather will boost fire danger for the next week or ten days across just about the entire geographic area. As the drying trend intensifies, we will have to watch for the next outbreak of lightning or strong, dry winds. http://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/content/products/fwx/guidance/DL.pdf


 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

3/29/2016 Spring Prescribed Burning

Spring can be a safe time to use prescribed fire in the forest to reduce accumulations of woody debris and brush, make wildlands more fire safe, and improve wildlife habitat. In addition, wildland fire fighters get a chance to hone their skills and get into physical condition in preparation for the wildfire season to come.

Seeing or smelling smoke? In Washington, the Department of Natural Resources regulates most uses of prescribed fire in wildlands if over 100 tons of material will be burned. They make daily go/no-go decisions considering the potential for smoke to impact the public. You can see if burning has been requested or approved near you by visiting this page:  https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protection/burnrequests/


The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest posts general spring burning plans by Ranger District here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/okawen/home  Contact the local Ranger District office with concerns or questions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Burn Ban Information Page

Cold weather and stagnant air can lead to an unhealthy build-up of wood smoke pollution.  Find out if there is a burn ban in your area by visiting the Washington state burn ban page:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Now that was a bad wildfire year!

Wildfires in 2015 burned more acres in Washington State than the last 5 years combined, according to data from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. Abnormally warm temperatures, a snow drought last winter, early snow melt this spring and a mostly dry summer were among the reasons.
  
Year
Acres burned by Washington wildfires
2010
56,820
2011
17,480
2012
259,526
2013
152,603
2014
386,972
2015
1,005,423 (as of September 30th)

In addition to the tragic loss of lives and property, many people were forced to breathe heavily polluted air for several days. Eastern Washingtonians were exposed to an average of about 11 days where air quality was either Unhealthy or worse, compared to an average of about 7 days in recent years with bad wildfires.

As can be expected, air quality varied widely from place to place. Omak for instance saw air quality degrade much more than it did in past years, while Wenatchee did not see air that was as bad as they did in 2012. Not all smoke plumes are measured by the network of air quality monitoring sites. Several temporary monitors placed in smoke impacted communities at different times recorded poor air quality, but their data have not been considered in the above analysis.
Satellite picture on 23 August 2015 shows widespread smoke in the Pacific NW. Measured air quality conditions are also indicated in colored dots

While the human body can recover from short term exposure to wildfire smoke, it is well known that smoke inhalation causes breathing difficulties among people with prior respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. Elderly people, pregnant women, infants and children can be susceptible at lower pollution levels. Extreme smoke levels can trigger heart attacks or strokes, even among healthy people. 

As we transition from wildfire season to home heating season, the public is encouraged to observe any burn bans that might be imposed in case of stagnant air and take necessary precautions to limit exposure to impaired air. If you are a wood burner, make sure you only burn dry, seasoned firewood in small, hot fires. A low-polluting woodstove or pellet stove would make an excellent Christmas gift. Your family and neighbors will thank you for it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

10/15/2015 Fall Prescribed Burning

This is the time of year when land managers and firefighters have a chance to safely use fire in a controlled manner to reduce fuel loads in the forest. Prescribed burning can benefit ecosystems, improve wildlife habitat, and lessen the chance of future uncontrollable wildfires and severe smoke episodes. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates forestry burning in Washington and always attempts to keep smoke from impacting the public to any great extent. You can find out if there's an approved forestry burn near you by visiting this page:
https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protection/burnrequests/