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, September 4, 2017


Washington State Smoke Forecast for Monday -Tuesday September 4-5, 2017
Issued:  Monday September 4 2017
Forecaster.  R. Graw, USDA Forest Service

A high pressure system will remain over the State today producing a subsidence inversion which will hold smoke in the lower parts of the atmosphere today (<10,000 feet).   Above the inversion, westerly winds will transport high levels of smoke and haze across central and eastern Washington.  Below the inversion, easterly winds will transport smoke from the fires in British Columbia, Montana, and Idaho in eastern and central Washington, while smoke from the fires in the Cascades will be transported into the western portions of the state. 

Figure 1 illustrates the overall fire locations (indicated by flames) and smoke pattern at ground level for the state today.   The map is best interpreted in a relative, rather than absolute sense.  The dark red  indicates areas of heavier smoke and the higher shades of red (i.e., pink) indicate areas of lighter smoke.  Because these are 24-hour averages, there will be differences at any given hour.  Some locations may experience heavier concentrations of smoke for shorter durations such as in low-lying area where smoke from the fires drains down valleys.  

Smoke will likely start moving into the Seattle and surrounding metropolitan areas, and eastern portions of the State by early afternoon and will get more concentrated overnight with the onset of the evening temperature inversion, which will hold smoke closer to the ground.  

Figure 1.  Model-Predicted 24-hour Smoke Concentrations for Washington on Monday September 4, 2017





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Conditions remain much the same as Monday, except the thermal trough will strengthen throughout the day.  Fire activity will likely increase due to the thermal through, but also be tempered by the smoke. East winds underneath the subsidence inversion will persist through the day on Tuesday.  Much of the state will continue experience smoke and haze, very similar to Monday’s forecasted pattern. 


Disclaimer:  Weather and fire activity can change quickly.  Please check back for updates to these forecasts as conditions change.  If you’re traveling out of Washington, many other states also have smoke blogs, including Oregon, Idaho, and California.  So please consider those resources to help you plan your travels.

35 comments:

  1. Will we need to evacuate due to heavy smoke?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have adverse reactions to smoke, depending on where you are, you might consider heading for safety. "Safety" will be a relative term for the next 2-3 days, with the least smoke (perhaps Moderate air) impacts on the WA coast between Aberdeen and Forks. However, besides right by wildfires, even areas which got hit hard by smoke over the last few days did not register Hazardous conditions.

      Delete
    2. Yes. You already should have evacuated. I did. Not kidding about this.

      I sincerely appreciate the hard work and careful analysis provided by the experts on this blog and elsewhere. But you have to keep in mind that they are duty-bound not to cause public panic.

      Delete
    3. It depends where you live.

      Delete
  2. Anyone know the aprox. particle size for this type of smoke? Will 1000 MPR air filters help w/ this type of smoke? 1500? 1900? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually smoke particles are under 1 micrometer in diameter. So MPR 1000 should help capture the bulk of smoke particles. N95 and N100 face masks are usually what we recommend for people to wear. However bear in mind that smoke also consists of several nasty gaseous species which arent filtered out even by 2800 MPR filters.

      Delete
    2. Ranil, which of the 3M bayonette-style respirator cartridges would you say is the best match?

      I have a lot of the N100 (pink housing) multi-gas due to my work (3M part number 60926, do an Amazon search for "3M 60926" to see) but if there is a better cartridge I'll pick some up in case I have to drive through the smoke again. I sure do get some weird looks from other drivers who must think I'm Walter White but I don't really care at this point....

      Delete
    3. Awkward appearance aside, the said masks use activated carbon filters and in addition to removing "certain types of organic gases" (as the manufacturer claims), it should be able to adequately filter fine particles out. So it should work for you, although I am not endorsing a particular product.

      Delete
  3. Ash has been falling in SE Vancouver, WA today. I would not consider that to be good air quality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gorgeous brown sky with slowly falling Ash. Woke up choking at 4 am, Mount Vernon, WA

      Delete
  4. Hi, Thanks for all of the helpful information. Just wondering, I live in Seattle. We've had good aqi readings all day today...has the wind shifted? I thought the AQI would have pushed us into the red by now. Also-im curious, at what point is an AC not good enough? In other words, at what aqi reading should folks(especially those with little ones) evacuate? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Winds are indeed blowing from the east as expected but a bulk of the smoke is still aloft and just starting to mix to the surface. Some Puget Sound area monitors are starting to inch into the Moderate air category.
      The decision to evacuate is a personal one and is dependent on your health conditions. A/C in recirculation mode might suffice for some, others might need to wear a N95 face mask and avoid outdoor exposure. I do not expect Seattle air to deteriorate beyond Very Unhealthy at worse- more like max out at Unhealthy sometime tomorrow. It should start to clear out by Thursday.

      Delete
  5. I was wondering. I am having a hard time reading the map. Are there multiple fires going on near the Tacoma Seattle area? Thanks for any and all help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tasha, the map is straining under the load of many users. The major fires are in the Cascades- the Jolly Mountain Fire near Cle Elum and the Norse Peak fire near Chinook Pass. East winds are pushing the smoke from these into the Puget Sound area now.

      Delete
  6. Cannot smell anything but burning wood or see past a few blocks here in Tekoa near Idaho border south of Spokane 40 miles
    But very little info on any fires near by
    This is beyond just smoke when it looks, tastes and smells like living in a fireplace!
    Anyone have info?
    Very eural and surrounded by thousands of acres of dry wheat and near large timber just 8 miles into Plummer ID
    Im new and freaking

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tessa, I imagine as a newcomer it is pretty scary. I've lived in fire country for 40 years, fought a few wildfires, worked with the head fire researcher in Yellowstone, and am in the 'sensitive' group when it comes to fire smoke.
      1. Don't panic, it will be okay. 'Evacuate' is a scary word; I don't think it's a good one when it comes to wildfire smoke. My nurse used to say 'it's a good time to visit the coast."
      2. Talk to neighbors that have lived in your area a long time, They'll know some tips for dealing with smoke, and tell you if things are getting to the worry point. There will always be one neighbor with a super negative, all is lost attitude: don't get advice from that neighbor.
      3. Find a couple websites maintained by government fire and air quality agencies, ones that you find easy to read. You can check these to see what you air quality really is, and to see (99% of the time) that the fires are nowhere near you.
      4. There are great guides available online or at Forest Service stations on how to keep your house and land maintained to keep it safer if a fire comes nearby.
      I hope some of this helps, and enjoy the sunsets! -Mark

      Delete
  7. Hi Tessa, smoke from Montana fires is hammering far eastern WA with a vengeance. Spokane area monitors recording Hazardous air now and unfortunately things arent going to improve hugely before Thursday. If you are having adverse reactions, consider evacuating. The Washington coast between Aberdeen and Forks is the only area in the state that might get by with no worse than Moderate air before then. Western WA should be relatively clear by Thursday.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Will it be safe to go to work tomorrow? I work in the Liberty lake area in wa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daytime concentrations of smoke are expected to drop somewhat (down to Unhealthy levels) but nighttime levels remain high (Hazardous/ Very Unhealthy). If you work outdoors and have adverse reactions to smoke, then you might want to seriously consider staying indoors Tuesday through Thursday. N95 face masks, A/C set to recirculation mode + any other medical advice recommended by your doctor.

      Delete
  9. Spokane slow down I-90 increase following distance use 4-ways if caught in sudden smoke follow fog line to safety preferably next exit.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am also seeing ash falling in Snoqualmie,WA this morning as of 3:30am. The smell of smoke is also very strong.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and there is a thing layer of Ash on everything outside, including a wood burning smell. Never seen anything like it and the ash is still falling.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We woke up to a house (inside and outside) covered in ash. What's interesting is that I'm guessing the wildfires are coming from the east. Our house faces the east, but it's the west side of our house that seem to have more ash. Not sure how that happened, if it's from some weird wind gusts that forced the ash into the backyard and through the windows.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Live in the Leschi area of Seattle and there is a layer of ash inside and outside here as well that must have come through overnight - wish I had known it was coming because I could have closed the windows and avoided all the ash in my kitchen and on my dishes. It seems to still be falling pretty consistently (not necessarily heavy) this morning. Strangely there isn't any wind and yet the back side of my house (west facing) is heavier with ash. Doesn't really make sense. Seems like we should avoid being outside for extended periods if the ash is falling. Right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marcia, Smoke is being transported by east winds aloft, but surface winds are very light, causing ash entrained in the plume to deposit out. As for exposure, ash- while problematic- isnt your main concern. Fine particles that remain suspended in smoke cause many negative health effects and you should minimize your smoke exposure. Stay indoors where possible, set your A/C to recirculation mode and wear a N95 face mask if needed. Hard to read much into west vs east side of your house. Lots of meander and microscale effects on top of the overall air movement.

      Delete
  14. I see the ash falling and yet the monitors in Seattle are mostly still reading "good." How is that possible? Can you help me understand if the air is safe for my asthmatic child? I normally trust the monitor near my house in bellevue, but the ash is confusing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie, the monitors measure fine particles, not larger particles like ash. As of now most of the fine particles are suspended aloft and just starting to mix down to the surface. This will cause the monitor readings to rise. Ash however starts to deposit down faster when winds die down. So in your case ash is a harbinger of poor air quality that will follow in the next few hours. Your asthmatic child should definitely minimize outdoor exposure and wear a N95 face mask if needed. Smoke should start clearing slowly out overnight, it will probably be Wednesday afternoon before Bellevue returns to Good air.

      Delete
  15. Hi .... Your new reporting system is not intelligble.

    Today 9/6 at 0900 you list Bellingham as code yellow. No number indicated.

    The pop up reads: "nowcast" (you mean "current"? What's wrong with "current" ?)

    "Nowcast" is given as "22" for PM 2.5. But a value of 22 is well within code green.

    Obviously there are others particles (PM 10) and gasses involved. We still need an indication of overall health level. Just "yellow" is not really informative. There's a significant difference between 51 and 99

    Another point: Washington State and Everyone Else need to get on board a single unified way of evaluating date. Getting different code levels from different agencies does not make for clarity.

    Individuals can always "self-adjust" code levels. For example, I can decide that 80 (for me) really equals a risk of 120. But a solid unified base from which to make that decision would still be helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are multiple considerations in displaying air quality data: which pollutant(s) to show, how colors are determined and how can one pull up historical data for a given site.

      Since this is a blog about smoke, PM2.5 is the most important pollutant (others do feature but not as prominently. The bulk of PM10 in smoke consists of PM2.5).

      Colors arent driven by the last hour's reading alone. You seem to have mistaken NowCast values for AQIs. The NowCast method is an EPA algorithm that downweights older data and gives more prominence to more recent data. It is *approximately* similar to a 3-hr running average although the algorithm is more complex. The NowCast method was adopted a few years ago to make the AQI more responsive to rapid changes in air quality, and applies to PM2.5, PM10 and O3.

      So a NowCast value of 22 means the ~3hr running average of PM2.5 is 22 micrograms per cubic meter. This is well within the Yellow category according to EPA's Air Quality Index, which transitions from Green to Yellow at 12, Yellow to Orange at 35... etc.

      All the epidemiological research shows, as you correctly point out that health effects are continuous, not stair stepped, with AQI. There might not be much difference in health conditions experienced at AQIs of 99 (Moderate) vs 101 (USG).

      So while a multipollutant based single AQI value on a continuous color scale would be most informative and protective of public health, I dont believe EPA or Ecology are at a point where we can iron out all the kinks and roll out something uniform just yet. I believe the Canadians have (or are considering) such a scheme and we too are actively discussing improvements to displaying AQ data. But even with that, sensitive individuals will need to self-adjust AQIs according to their health conditions and take necessary steps.

      Delete
    2. Whats your idea on whats happening in the snoqualmie valley?

      Delete
    3. As stated in this blog and the local newspaper, Snoqualmie valley and nearby areas are plagued by smoke from the Jolly Mountain fire.

      Delete
  16. My two kids and wife live in Yakima, WA. We have been nausea to the point of almost throwing up. Cold sweats, and just feeling yuck, yet kids still go to school, as we to work. The day prior it was hazardous in the the red, then yesterday we were told it would be worse?? What is worse than hazardous??
    I feel like we are all in danger of smoke inhalation....Local govt isnt doing anything except not letting the kids out for recess.We were then told it wont be until winter until the fire department can get to the cleelum fire. So, are we in this condition for months?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With the fires in Idaho and Montana plus the local fires in the WA and OR cascades, smoke will likely be present at varying levels until a fire stopping weather system comes through. Please see the latest blog post for the recent smoke forecast under the "Home" tab above. There is health guidance on the "Smoke and Health" tab also on this page. There are steps you can take for minimizing the smoke impact.

      Delete
  17. When will there be a new update? Its pretty bad here in Wenatchee and wondering what to expect. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Updates are posted at least daily to the main blog page (http://wasmoke.blogspot.com- not this specific forecast which was issued on Monday). Two forecasts were posted today, one of which specifically covered Wenatchee.

      Delete

We encourage your questions, comments and feedback and ask that everyone be respectful of others opinions and avoid comments that are defamatory, inappropriate or off-topic.