Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Smoke forecast 24- 26 September 2014

O Palouse!

Oregon wildfires did not end up sending too much smoke our way after all. But Idaho did L. The Palouse and Lewis- Clark Valley saw Moderate air quality the last two days as smoke from fires in Idaho drifted in- mostly at night- and in the case of the L-C valley, did not disperse much during the day.

Today however a wet, warm front will bring good southwest winds to the area and clear all the smoke. It has already washed Western Washington and the Cascades clean and there is a possibility of a little rain making its way to the far southeast corner of the state by Thursday evening.

Most of the state is expected to see Good air quality through Friday. Except the Palouse and L-C valley.

Alas, there will be periods of light east winds each night and on Friday as fronts swing over far eastern Washington, and these could easily drag in more smoke from Idaho. Some rain is likely on Friday but whether it will be enough to wash away the smoke is uncertain at this point.

Air quality in Pullman, Clarkston and perhaps Rosalia is expected to vary between Good, Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups at night and on Friday.

Ranil Dhammapala, PhD.
Washington State Department of Ecology
Tel: 360-407-6807

Monday, September 22, 2014

Smoke forecast Monday 9/22

One era is ending...

Pullman and Clarkston had air that was Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups during parts of the weekend. But Idaho smoke will cease hovering over far eastern Washington today as winds turn southwesterly.

...and a new one starting

Smoke from the "36 pit fire" near Mount Hood in Oregon will probably get swept up in the southwest winds and make its way over southeastern Washington over the next two days. However this front is expected to bring in some rain, so ground level smoke might not be that bad. Expect air quality to be mostly Good with a few areas in the south central part of the state seeing Moderate air.

Interestingly some smoke from the 36 pit fire drifted over western Washington on Sunday but stayed aloft. We might see some smoke from this fire hitting Western Washington during the day on Tuesday as the first of two fronts approach the state.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Smoke forecast Thursday 9/18- Sunday 9/21

It gets better...

In spite of Wednesday's winds not being as strong as expected, air quality in several areas did improve a little. Many sites in eastern Washington showed Moderate air quality this morning, with Clarkston showing Unhealthy air. Expect west-northwest winds to pick up today and air quality to return to mostly Good statewide.

... but won't stay that way for everyone

A strong ridge is expected Friday through Sunday, bringing nice weather and east winds. The previous forecast for southwest winds is no longer valid. As such it is unlikely that Oregonian wildfire smoke will make it to Washington, but Idahoan wildfire smoke is likely to impact the Palouse, the Lewis- Clark valley and perhaps further into the Columbia Basin to varying extents between Friday and Sunday. Expect air quality to hover between Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.

The 25-acre fire outside Leavenworth is nearing containment but could continue smoldering for a few more days. In addition, there could be small amounts of localized smoke from the various prescribed burns across the state.

Forecast will be updated as required.

Ranil Dhammapala, PhD.
Atmospheric Scientist
Washington State Department of Ecology
Tel: 360-407-6807   Fax: 360-407-7534

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Smoke forecast, Tuesday 16 September 2014

It wasn't us. It was them!
Well, mostly. Folks around Leavenworth, the Puget Sound lowlands, and southeast Washington have been breathing moderate amounts of smoke over the last day or two. There has been some prescribed burning approved recently and a wildfire outside of Leavenworth which may be contributing locally to the higher smoke values, but most of the smoke seems to be drifting in from Oregon and Idaho. 

East winds helped drag some smoke from Idaho across the Palouse and the Lewis- Clark Valley. In western Washington, south winds brought in some smoke from wildfires near Mount Hood in Oregon. In most cases, air quality degraded to "Moderate". 

Here is the satellite image over Washington, taken on Monday morning. Notice the Idahoan smoke coming down the Clearwater river valley. South winds picked up later in the day and brought in more smoke from Oregon. In addition there are areas of smoke in central and western Washington, partly caused by prescribed burns.

The picture is likely to remain the same through this evening, after which winds turn a bit more westerly, and become southwesterly by Wednesday. Western Washington will see less Oregon smoke  starting Wednesday morning. But southwest winds mean smoke from Oregon is likely to impact cities in a line from The Dalles, OR through Spokane, at least through Thursday. 

The Palouse will see some relief from Idahoan plumes before Oregonian plumes show up. Air quality is likely to hover between Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.

Stronger winds are expected on Thursday and this is likely to disperse smoke more. Things calm down as a ridge builds from Friday through the weekend bringing us nice weather statewide and also poor smoke dispersion. We are not likely to see a lot of smoke from neighboring states transported over Washington, but cities closer to the fires will be impacted. Some daytime clearing is expected.

In addition, smoke from various prescribed burns could bring some smoke to different parts of the state. 

Forecast will be updated as needed

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

9/16/2014 Smoke in Leavenworth

The Tumwater fire outside of Leavenworth isn't very large but is close enough to Leavenworth to be sending smoke into town.  The 20 acre fire is reported to be 40 percent contained.

Leavenworth fire throwing up lots of smoke

The Wenatchee World (MCT)
LEAVENWORTH — Fire crews and helicopters were trying to tame a human-caused wildfire burning in brush and timber near the mouth of Tumwater Canyon in Leavenworth Sunday morning.
No homes or businesses were threatened by the newly named Tumwater Fire, reported at 10:42 p.m. Saturday. About 10 to 15 acres had burned by 11 a.m. Sunday, burning up a steep and rocky southeastern slope and visible from the heart of Leavenworth’s downtown.
Two helicopters began dropping water in tandem about 9:30 a.m. Three 20-person ground crews are also working the fire, which apparently began near the base of the slope. Ground crews worked the blaze from a staging area behind the Heidleburger Drive-in at the west end of Leavenworth.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Robin DeMario said the fire was under investigation but appeared to be human-caused.
The fire caused significant smoke and ash fall in the Upper Valley. State Department of Ecology air monitors listed Leavenworth’s air as being unhealthful for sensitive groups by midmorning.