Friday, July 18, 2014

Air Quality Forecast, Friday 18 July 2014

The Carlton Complex wildfire rapidly grew to over 160,000 acres. It prompted evacuations and serious fire damage in the Methow Valley, Pateros and Brewster. The Mills Canyon Complex wildfire also grew and together caused worse air quality than initially predicted. Breezy conditions today have helped dissipate a little smoke but they also reduce plume rise and transport smoke longer distances. As of 3PM on Friday, Leavenworth recorded Unhealthy air while Wenatchee, Omak, Colville and several Spokane area sites were all showing “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”. The Twisp and Winthrop monitors are offline because much of the Methow Valley has lost power.
 
Breezy conditions are set to continue through Sunday as the winds turn more westerly. Some rain is possible in the Cascades on Sunday but may not reach the fires. Smoke is expected to continue blowing across eastern Washington, with cities close to the fires likely seeing Unhealthy or even Very Unhealthy air. Other areas across the Columbia Basin, mostly east of a line from Ellensburg to Richland are likely to see periodic smoke between now and Monday, leading to air quality that is “Moderate” or “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”.
 
Light southwesterly winds on Monday- Tuesday could bring some smoke from wildfires in Oregon to southeastern Washington. The northern Columbia Basin might experience a little relief from smoke. There is a good possibility of rain on Tuesday- Wednesday, but it also comes with the risk of lightning and gusty winds, which can aggravate wildfires.
 
Unless there are new wildfires, air quality in south central and western Washington should continue to remain Good during this time.
 
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Ranil Dhammapala, PhD.
Atmospheric Scientist
Washington State Department of Ecology
P.O Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Tel: 360-407-6807
Fax: 360-407-7534
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