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).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Smoke might spare western WA by remaining above, not so further east

Mostly Good (Green) or Moderate (Yellow) air in western WA on Saturday in spite of plenty of smoke over the area as shown by the satellite image of Saturday afternoon.

This is because a temperature inversion is limiting downward mixing. Here's the 5PM temperature sounding from Quillayute on Saturday, showing the inversion:

Models persist with this 3000- 5000 ft inversion through Tuesday, and if that prediction holds, it should keep most of the smoke above. Other models however mix some smoke to surface during the daytime hours on Sunday and Monday, so uncertainty persists. Air could range from Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in western WA, with both smoke and smog contributing- more on smog later.

Eastern WA doesnt have such a temperature inversion to keep the smoke aloft, so as long as the northerly flow persists, BC smoke will continue to mix downward. Air quality is not expected to improve a whole lot all week. Although a few Moderate areas might appear occasionally, folks need to be prepared for a repeat of the above map. Air will remain Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, if not worse.

A pattern shift that will help us ventilate out isn't on the cards until Saturday. The 10K ft winds advertised by the European model only turn southwest for the first time in over a week on Saturday morning.

And now about smog: the importance of ground level ozone (O3- the key ingredient of smog; not to be confused with "good" stratospheric ozone) has gotten lost in the midst of all the fine particle pollution concerns. Ozone is not released directly from sources but is formed when certain gases react together in the atmosphere under hot, dry and sunny conditions. It irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system and is especially bad for those with chronic heart and lung disease, children and the elderly. A brief summary can be found here.

Wildfires are copious sources of one of the precursor gases and many ozone monitors in WA recorded high levels of ozone over the last few days.

Even when wildfire smoke is taken out of the equation, Washington state continues to have ozone concerns in the Cascade foothills of east King/ Pierce county, and in the Tri-Cities. Several air quality agencies are working with stakeholders to protect the public from this health risk.


  1. Fabulous blog! Many thanks to the contributors for the detailed forecasts, clear explanations, and for making all of it relevant to human health.

  2. Thank you so much for all your work, the information is very appreciated. Helps us all cope and make good decisions during these smoky times.

  3. What a fantastic resource. I happened to see the link to wasmoke.blogspot.com on a NOAA website special statement. The updates are written in easy to understand language and provide good tips. thanks for the great info

  4. How are smoke conditions up in the North Cascades?

  5. You might have your answer by now with the posts over the past few days but the smoke will likely linger in the North Cascades and most of Washington for a few more days. The forecast from the National Weather Service shows that winds may be sufficient to move smoke away starting sometime on Saturday. Sorry for the delay.


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