Thursday, August 3, 2017

Smoke monster overran Washington but mother nature is fighting back

Wildfire smoke has just swamped us like never before. Here's the satellite picture from Wednesday afternoon:

Don't recall a time when every fine particle monitor in the state recorded poor air for a whole day. Here's how the 24-hr average air quality conditions looked on Wednesday.

Red = Unhealthy, Orange = Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups and Yellow = Moderate.

Zoom out and overlay the smoke layer- wow! In an ironic twist, you can actually go to Los Angeles and breathe easier than in Washington's remote locations!

Not all doom and gloom though. Some models are advertising a shot of northwesterly air this evening and night, which will bring a little relief to western Washington that is so unaccustomed to being overrun by what Prof. Cliff Mass terms "Smokezilla". If this scenario pans out, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few locations from Seattle northward recording Good air overnight. Less pronounced further south, so expect Moderate or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups overnight.

Winds are expected to pick up a little across the state on Friday. This will both fan the flames (red flag warnings galore) and blow away some smoke. Further improvements are likely in western WA although central and southeast WA are likely to get hit by a mixture of Montana and BC smoke at different times. But lighter winds return over the weekend, which will cause residual smoke to linger. Hard to tell if there will be a fresh infusion of BC wildfire smoke into western WA, but eastern WA will definitely get another dose. More details as the situation evolves.

Please pay attention to avoiding exposure to smoke by minimizing strenuous outdoor activities. Use discretion when opening windows at night to beat the heat, because this also brings poor air indoors.

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