Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Smoke on the west side should start clearing late tonight. No such luck in eastern WA

Satellite imagery shows impressive plumes from fires in the Cascades headed northeast.



But it requires a look at a zoomed out loop to see the culprit behind all the smoke in western WA: smoke from southwestern Oregon that moved over the Pacific and is now swinging over us as it departs to the east. Most locations along the I-5 corridor are reporting Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) air and that will remain the story for the rest of the day. A surge of marine air is expected late tonight and it might be Wednesday morning before smoke starts to clear. Sensitive individuals should take precautions and minimize their outdoor time.

After that, western WA should remain mostly smoke- free through Friday, when things start getting messy again. Please stay tuned.

Eastern WA forecast
Kinda "pick your poison" scenario. Right now the central Basin is getting battered by Oregon smoke, far southeast WA getting Idahoan smoke, and north central WA getting doses from of the Norse Peak, Jolly Mountain (cool name, bad smoke) and the Diamond Creek fires. As winds shift tomorrow evening, there will be some short-lived relief through about Thursday evening, with the Lewis- Clark valley being the last to clear out. Areas closer to the fires like Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, the Methow, Newport and Metaline Falls will likely see USG air for longer  and may not drop below Moderate, due to close proximity to fires.

After that local fires start back where they left off, taking over the business of tormenting Washingtonians by flooding the Columbia Basin with smoke again. Not expecting much better than Moderate air - with USG areas being common- in eastern WA between now and the weekend. An air quality alert has been issued to cover this.

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