Saturday, August 18, 2018

Very Large Smoke Plumes Across Pacific Northwest

Very large smoke plumes can be seen all across the Pacific Northwest.  NOAA describes it as such:

"The ongoing wildfire activity affecting portions of the western United States and western Canada continues to produce enormous amounts of smoke that covers most of Canada and the northern portion of the United States. The areas of densest smoke extend from western and southern British Columbia across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and southern Quebec in Canada and northern California, southern Oregon, all of the northern border states from Washington to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri in the United States."

MODIS Aqua Satellite Image - Saturday Afternoon

PM2.5 monitoring has shown Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups air quality across Western, South-Central, and South-East Washington counties today.  Continued Unhealthy to Hazardous conditions have been monitored in the Central and North-Eastern counties.  Conditions look to get progressively worse for western Washington as well as most other counties over the next few days.


Please protect you and your family from smoke if it is impacting your area.  The Department of Health has relevant information here.

While waiting for BC smoke scene #2, lets compare this year's smoke with past years

Yes, you read that right. Lotsa BC smoke poised to overrun the state again. But first things first.

Here is a comparison of how the 2018 wildfire smoke impacts (through 15 August) compare with past years.

The gray shading reflects the typical range of air quality conditions over the last 11 wildfire seasons. In more precise techno-talk, it is the median through the 95th percentile. You can see roughly when each area experienced its smoke episodes in the past. The black lines show how 2018 has progressed thus far. The background shading shows the intensity of smoke.

So all of western Washington for example, experienced smoke impacts for longer and earlier in past summers (mostly 2017), than 2018. But that pales in comparison with what Okanogan and Chelan counties have routinely endured in the past: in fact, this year has been a little mellower for them, although still pretty brutal. Similar conclusions can be drawn about other areas.

What's the take home message? That someone else had/ has it worse, so quit complaining and tough it out? Far from it! Wildfire smoke impacts, even at low levels are detrimental to human health and our readers are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the health-protection resources on this blog.

What about that BC smoke?
This is where things get ugly and stay ugly through mid- week or so. This afternoon's satellite picture shows a lot of smoke overhead, gradually moving south-southwest (red dots are fires).
LOTS of smoke to the north and the forecast shows it engulfing the state by tomorrow. Here's one model's prediction surface level smoke on Sunday night:
Chances are slim that there will be a natural clean air shelter anywhere in the state through Wednesday. All the more reason to be diligent about minimizing time outdoors, donning N95 face masks, running A/C's in recirculation mode (temperatures are likely to soar early this week but smoke aloft will shave off a few degrees), or investing in an air purifier which does not produce indoor ozone.

Pronóstico de Humo para el Cuenca de Columbia Norte 18/8


North Columbia Basin Smoke Outlook for 8/18/18


Friday, August 17, 2018

8/17/2018 Wildfire in Washington Update

Lightning over the last 24 hours has ignited a few new fires in the state although the story for Washington fires remains the large Cougar Creek, Crescent Mtn., and McLeod fires in the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest. Crescent Mtn in particular became active yesterday and spotted into a new area. Summaries of fires shown below. Much more info for most is available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/?state=49 .
Smoke from these fires continues to degrade air quality from Winthrop and Twisp, south to Entiat and Wenatchee, and east to Republic, Colville, and Inchelium. For the time being, meteorological conditions have kept smoke from fires in Canada north of the border but the fires in Canada are still large, numerous, and active and it would seem that smoke is likely to head toward Washington again in a few days. So if you're in an area that is experiencing good air quality this is your chance to get out and go for that run or take the kids out to play because conditions look like they will change back to smoky again by late in the day on Sunday.


Westside/Olympic Penninsula
Maple. 10 mi N of Hoodsport, WA. Start 8/4. Monitor/Confine/Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 1,464 acres (+100). 52% containment. Moderate fire behavior. Timber. T&E habitat threatened. Road, trail and area closures.


Yakima Area
Miriam. 25 mi SE of Mt Rainier. Start 7/30. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 2,650 acres (+250). 10% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber. Steep terrain. Evacuations in effect. White Pass Ski Resort and T&E species habitat threatened. Road, trail and area closures.


New: Winnier Road. 13 mi SE of Toppenish, WA. Start 08/16. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 349 acres. Lined. Limited information available.

Methow Valley/Chelan/Entiat Area
McLeod. 8 mi N of Mazama, WA. Start 8/11. Monitor/Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 3,948 acres (+1,148). 0% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber. Structures threatened.
Crescent Mtn. 16 mi W of Winthrop WA. Start 7/29. Monitor/Confine/Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 19,700 acres (+2,824). 37% containment. Moderate fire behavior. Timber. Structures, recreation and timber threatened. Evacuation notices. Road, trail and area closures. 


Cougar Creek. 25 mi W of Chelan, WA. Start 7/28. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 34,482 acres (+2,874). 35% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber and slash. Evacuation notices. Area restrictions, road, trail and area closures. Structures, cultural resources, timber, infrastructure and recreation threatened.

Colville Area
Boyds. 3 mi W of Kettle Falls, WA. Start 08/11. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 3,065 acres (+65). 27% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber and grass. Evacuations in effect. Major highway closures and structures threatened.
Horns Mountain. 9 mi NE of Orient, WA. Start 08/11. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 1,293 acres (+105). 15% containment. Moderate fire behavior. Timber. Timber threatened.

Pronóstico de Humo para el Cuenca de Columbia Norte 17/8