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).





Thursday, September 7, 2017

Washington State Smoke Forecast for Friday September 8, 2017

Washington State Smoke Forecast for Friday September 8, 2017
Forecast issued on Thursday September 7, 2017
Forecaster: R. Graw, USDA Forest Service.


As of Thursday morning, there were 4 uncontained large wildfires burning in Washington, of which a number of these contained multiple fires.  Figure 1 below illustrates the locations of the fires burning around the state.  The three most active fires are Diamond Creek, Jolly Mountain, and Norse Peak.

Figure 1.  Large Fire Map of Washington - Thursday morning, September 7, 2017




A cut-off low pressure system spinning of the coast of northern California will bring moisture and winds out of the south over much of the State on Friday as illustrated in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2.  500 mb map illustrating winds patterns at approximately 20,000 ft for Friday, September 8, 2017 at 11 am Pacific Time.


This will bring in some light precipitation into some parts of the state, as illustrated in Figure 3.  Precipitation is expected in western Washington and over the Cascades and in southern Washington, as predicted by the University of Washington WRF-GFS 1.33 km meteorological model. note the color bar below which relates colors to 1/100 of an inch of precipitation.  Most locations can expect only about a  trace to a 1/10 of an inch, including where many of the fires are located.  This little amount of precipitation is not enough to put the fires out, and will do little to modify fire behavior significantly.

Figure 3.  Model-Predicted 24-hour total precipitation for the period ending at 5 pm on Friday, September 8, 2017.


Mixing tomorrow is expected to be good over the Cascades by marginal to poor elsewhere by 2 pm, as illustrated in Figure 4 below.  The ventilation index is a combination of mixing height and horizontal wind speed in layer below. Note the poor ventilation expected over much of central and eastern Washington for tomorrow.  Additionally the figure illustrates the surface level winds expected tomorrow.  Westerly winds are expected over the western part of the state with speed of  approximately 10 mph Winds will be mixed and a bit lighter over central and eastern Washington.

Figure 4.  Model-predicted Ventilation Index for Friday, September 8, 2917 at 2 pm Pacific Time.

According to the Severe Fire Weather Potential Mapping System, fire activity is expected to be high to severe over the fires tomorrow, as illustrated in Figure 5. Thus, smoke production and fire behavior is not expected to be damped by the forecasted precipitation.

Figure 5.  Severe Fire Weather Potential for Friday September 8, 2017.



Given these conditions, the state-wide smoke pattern is expected to be as shown in Figure 6. Smoke is expected to be most dense in the immediate downwind vicinity of Diamond Creek, Jolly Mountain and Norse Peak fires and to the north east.  Western, WA is expected to be the best location for good air quality tomorrow.  However, once the nighttime inversion set up (around 8 pm), smoke from the fires will concentrate along the river drainages.  Additionally, smoke can also be compressed and concentrated in areas such as eastern and northeastern Washington with the on set of the evening inversion as well.

Figure 6.  Model-predicted Smoke Pattern and Concentrations for Washington on Friday, September 8, 2017. 



Disclaimer:  Predictions of fire behavior, weather, and smoke transport and dispersion are very complex. Conditions can and do change rapidly.  As such, these forecasts are a best attempt at providing useful information.  Graphics are used to try to communicate as much information as possible state-wide as not all areas can be discussed in the text.

For additional information about smoke and fires in Central Oregon, please see the updates provided by the Air Resource Advisers on this smoke blog.
















































24 comments:

  1. Norse Peak fire? Where's that at? It's not on the map of large fires.

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    1. Yes it is well covered on the Inciweb list (see "where's the fire" tab above).
      Location is 46.951 latitude, -121.374 longitude

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  2. When will we see improvement in Eastern, Wa? I am in the Yakima area. Thanks.

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    1. T, some limited relief is coming tomorrow and Saturday. Yakima is close to the Norse Peak fire, so improvements will be modest. Models have the winds switching to the west by Friday and that will stop Montana smoke from hitting you. But it will also place you downwind of the Norse Peak fire, sadly. The Hazardous air will "improve" to Unhealthy early this weekend

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    2. Is that relief temporary? Will the smoke get worse again?

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    3. Anonymous, as explained above and as shown in the model map, it will improve a bit between now & Saturday but not hugely. There is a good chance it will worsen Sun- Tue, though not as bad as what you've had upto now.

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  3. Thank you, Rick, Ranil, and all others who create these predictive models, monitor current conditions, and share your expertise through this blog and other public education materials. Your work is very much appreciated. From a very smoky Spokane, and between terrible coughing fits, I thank you!

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  4. What is your prediction for Saturday at Manson and Willow Point on Lake Chelan? I have looked forward to the Lake Chelan Swim, but don't want to swim if the air is in the unhealthy range.

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    Replies
    1. Susan, some limited relief is coming tomorrow and Saturday. But Chelan is close to the Uno Peak fire, so improvements will be modest. Models have the winds switching to the west by Friday and that will help blow away some of the smoke that has accumulated due to light winds. But it will also place you downwind of the Uno Peak fire, sadly. The Hazardous air will "improve" to Unhealthy early this weekend

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  5. My question is incredibly trivial compared to the people who have legitimate worries regarding these fires in the smoke from them, so I feel compelled to put that out there initially. I am supposed to board a flight from the East Coast early tomorrow morning with the intention of through hiking the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, starting on Saturday. Is it a reasonable assumption that even with rain the next couple of days, the conditions will remain unhealthy over the park for the next week?

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    Replies
    1. First, you may want to confirm that tact Mt Rainier NP to see if there are any closed trails to Sunrise since the White River park entrance has been closed. See https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm. As far as air quality starting Saturday, there will be some improvements to the very smoky conditions but winds will shift by Sunday and it is likely there will be occasional smoke wafting in from the Norse Peak fire nearby. Hard to predict a week out because fire behaviour + weather is uncertain beyond ~ Monday. Be prepared for Unhealthy air and take necessary precautions. Not expecting a repeat of what they're seeing right now, though.

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    2. Thank you so much for your quick reply. I really appreciate it. I'm going to cancel my reservation and hope for clearer skies next summer--it's just not worth the risk at this point but this helped me
      make my final decision. Thanks again.

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  6. Are there up to date (recent, last 2-4 hours) smoke models that are accessible? Curious to see if there's some predicted clearing out tonight. What area has the best chance to see a clear night sky?

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    1. Not sure there will be much clearing: smoke is flushing out in western WA but clouds are rolling in. See the NOAA High Resolution Rapid Refresh Model: https://rapidrefresh.noaa.gov/hrrr/HRRRsmoke/

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  7. What about spokane area will we see rain.

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    Replies
    1. Small chance of very light rain. See http://www.weather.gov/otx/

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  8. Thank you, so much, everyone for this website.

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  9. Hi There! Question for you: We are headed to Lake Chelan tomorrow for my brothers wedding. My husband and I just had a little girl- she is 2 months old and will be coming with us. The rehearsal dinner is outside on Saturday night (6:30 pm) and the wedding is on Sunday, at 4pm, also outside. We are going to keep our baby inside as much as possible this weekend but I was wondering if you think it safe to have her be outside for about a half an hour for each of these events? She is a very healthy girl but is still so young it scares me!! I have tried doing research and called our pediatrician for advice but I feel you may have some insight as well. I would appreciate any input you may be able to provide. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Christine, we're not able to give personalized health advice. What we can provide is an air quality forecast. Seems like there will be decent winds in the Chelan area on Saturday evening. This puts you directly downwind of the Uno peak fire, but smoke will be diluted somewhat. Sunday PM winds are much lighter and it is possible that smoke could pool in the area. You could make a "game time decision" by watching the air quality monitor, which is located right on the banks of Lake Chelan. See
      https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/StationInfo.aspx?ST_ID=10

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  10. Amazing and very interesting post, thank you for sharing.

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  11. Bad time to spend 2 weeks in Seattle area (we r planning to arrive tomorrow but concerned about unhealthy air qlty)? Mostly outdoorsy activities like short walks, outdoor dining, etc. Having been in Spokane the past few days realize hubby and dog r sensitive to the smoke when it's bad, had to stay indoors while we were there. Should we reroute? Driving back to north Cali and hoped to visit Seattle and Portland the next 4 weeks. Bad idea? Thanks in advance for thoughts.

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    1. It's difficult to accurately forecast two weeks into the future, but as far as the next couple of days the general outlook for the Seattle area is good. Some smoke is expected to return Tues but to what level is uncertain. Until a weather event helps put the fires out smoke may slosh back and forth over the Cascades. Overall however, western WA air quality is typically better than eastern WA during these wildfires due to the more common westerly winds. Check back on this site for smoke forecast updates under the Home tab.

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