Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Overnight drizzle didn't move the smoke needle much.

Slight welcome drizzle overnight in parts of western WA and a marginal improvement in fine particle pollution levels along the coast. Not much, but we'll take what we get. Air is still Unhealthy or worse in most of the state. 

All the smoke models that ran overnight overdid the amount of clearing this weather system brought. According to them there should have been areas of Green and Yellow on the map by this morning. How we wish they were right! Therefore we're we're going for a persistence forecast. That is, expect the status quo to continue. Not pinning too much hopes on the weather system and slight rain expected tonight either. Substantial clearing is will have to wait until the Friday- Saturday timeframe. Here's the forecast for tomorrow. Nothing we havent already seen. 


Later today we will provide some data analysis comparing this smoke season to past years. If our readers would like to see informative data products, please let us know and we will try, within reason, to prepare the most relevant plots/ tables. A friend of mine wanted me to issue a hyper-local, personalized forecast showing how his house will have clean air while everyone else had to endure hazardous conditions. I said no. Same goes for data products. 

126 comments:

  1. Hi Ranil, thank you for all of your great work to educate us this week! I'm in the Seattle area and noticing that there are some patches of blue sky, but the monitors still show that it's unhealthy out. Is the air still unhealthy even if we can see blue skies?

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    1. Certainly thinning aloft, I can see the Olympics in the satellite pictures. But those winds arent making their way down to the surface to scrub out the gunk from where it really matters.

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    2. Thanks, Ranil for all the good info / analysis. Would it be possible to include a copy of the latest GOES satellite photography each day? The one you have is now two days old, and obviously things keep changing.

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    3. Bob, you can always see the latest GOES-17 image at https://a.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/wxloop.cgi?vis1km_color+1

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    4. This is a good site for getting the latest GOES images too. https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/conus.php?sat=G17

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  2. Thanks for doing this work and keeping us informed.

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  3. Ranil,
    Much appreciation for all your efforts to keep the public informed and updated! Thank you.

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  4. Really appreciate all your hard work on keeping us updated!

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  5. I just discovered your blog and wanted to thank you! It's a delight - simultaneously witty and informative!

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  6. Dang, it’s too bad the air didn’t clear up more today. I for one would be immensely interested in seeing some data products — I’m in Seattle, so hopefully it shouldn’t have to get too personalized aha. I just moved here; my mom grew up in Seattle though hasn’t lived in Seattle for many years, and she’s baffled by how bad this has been (the only similar event she could recall was Mt St Helens!), and I’ve been wondering whether “smoke season” has been a regular occurrence as of late.

    I also have a question: a friend of mine forwarded me a post that said that if you don’t have an air filter, you can try to cover as much surface as possible with containers filled with water. The post claimed that the containers will increase humidity, which will cling to any smoke particles in my apartment and make it easier for them to fall to the floor and out of the air. Is this true? And if it’s not true, is it harmful or just neutral? Thank you!

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    1. Hello, yes we've had 4 bad smoke years since 2015. Working up some plots right now. As for the humidifying effect, here's a response I provided to a similar question on Sunday:
      I cant see how aerosol science supports this. Higher humidity causes particle to grow in size. This means: (1) increased deposition velocity, but that alone is not sufficient to remove particles in large enough amounts. (2) slightly more efficient filtration of larger particles by the human respiratory system, but particles need to grow a lot before this amounts to anything meaningful. The moisture layer tends to help the lungs better absorb water soluble organic compounds adhered on to particle surfaces, increasing their toxicity somewhat. However aged smoke particles are already moist, so I dont know if further moisture does any damage. So while I couldnt claim it is counterproductive (unless you're using a smoky stove), it is not going to do you a whole lot of good.

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  7. Thank you for your work Ranil it is much appreciated! Is it safe to go by car through the smoke or will it come inside the car even with recirculate and air conditioner on ?

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    1. A little smoke intrusion is inevitable but the cabin air filter will help a lot

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  8. I know this is a "smoke" blog and not a "fire" blog, but I have to ask: in terms of long-term forecast what are our prospects for smoke in, say, October? Are firefighters working in the Cascades in Oregon pinning their hopes on weather (help from rain and RH increasing)? And then for Central/Eastern WA are we looking at a prolonged fire season?

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    1. My colleague Dave Grant @ the Dept of Ecology offers the following response:
      "Hello and thank you for your inquiry regarding long-term wildfire outlooks. You are correct in that this forum is geared toward smoke information. For actual wildfire forecasting information, I would refer you to the expertise available at the Northwest Area Wildfire Coordination Center (NWCC). Their website can be found at: https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/index.aspx . Current and predicted wildfire fuels conditions and fire danger indices are tracked by the top-notch staff at the NWCC. An excellent monthly outlook briefing can be viewed from this site by clicking on “Outlooks” along the left-hand column. I hope this information is helpful to you."

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    2. Thanks ranil! That site contains great info. I appreciate your work. Hopefully conditions continue to improve for our firefighters and the smoke clears for a last hurrah of summer.

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  9. Thanks for your understandable, compassionate, and humorous writing!

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  10. Okay give it to us straight: what is the chance that the smokey air just hangs around for weeks? Like, realistically is that a possibility?

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    1. It wont do that. We dont have a history of stagnant patterns sitting around for weeks at this time of year. This year it is looking like a one week event, which might be a record (need to check & confirm).

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    2. Thank you for this (and for all your thoughtful and compassionate posts and responses in general) - knowing that better air is coming soon is so helpful to hear!

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  11. Everbody who is able must be pro-active in fire watch and prevention, and when smoke inundates us to help others who cannot help themselves, i.e. filters for box fans,masks,going to do errands for people who are vulnerable. Just people helping on another simple as that.

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  12. Thank you so much! You're site is the one I go to each morning to get up to date, accurate reporting on the smoke situation here in Olympia.

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  13. Thanks for all the updates, and for taking the time to reply to comments!

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  14. Really appreciating this blog. Thank you for the little bit of humor added to it-- helps make these grey days a bit brighter :)

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  15. EPA AirNow says AQI is 269, while WAQA's rating is 321.

    Who should I trust and why?

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    1. Both use the same underlying data, but the index (and category) is calculated differently. WAQA is more protective of human health (i.e. paints a bleaker picture, allowing you to take action sooner). Our advice has always been to use the higher of the two.

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    2. Thanks for this question, I have also been noticing these inconsistencies. And, thanks for the answer, Ranil!

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  16. Ranil - appreciate you blog posts!

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  17. Like many who have already posted, I just want to thank you for this informative and even poetic blog. This situation is miserable but your empathy and humor help!

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  18. Events of the past few days have brought home the point of how many different factors and variables go into weather modeling and prediction. I'm seeing some of the big TV stations in Seattle post to expect more smoke to arrive in Western WA on south winds tomorrow Wednesday. Is that true...gonna get worse before the improvement we're all hoping for late in the week and into the weekend? I mean at this point it's all varying shades of yuck, but still....

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    1. Yes that worsening potential exists but we expect it will be offset by the very slight clearing (overblown by models) between now & tomorrow

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    2. Ranil - Does your statement for clearing Friday/Saturday apply to central Washington? The forecast site I follow shows a significant worsening here from Thursday to Friday and I noticed that the Windy.com website predicts a strong wind flow from the Portland area up into central Washington mid-morning on Friday. Thanks.

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  19. I think a plot/data visual (something like GEOS-WEST derived winds + pressure boundary map + fire location plot) and a discussion regarding the kinematics of the current meteorological conditions which are permitting the buildup/transport of smoke may be useful in our (general public) understanding of why this is so hard to predict. Maybe some additional information on why there is significant confidence in clearing this weekend?

    Just a thought. Thanks again for what you all do.

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  20. Thank you for all this. Is there a ceiling to this smoke? Can you get above it and breathe, say, if you're wanting to hike at higher elevations?

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    1. The Olympics certainly look a lot clearer in today's satellite pics, Cascades less so.

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    2. Thanks for all you are doing. The Cascades appear as green on the map. Is that just because of the lack of sensors in the mountains?

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    3. Henry: there are no colors in the higher terrain- thats the background map color you're seeing on the forecast map, not Good air. A forecast is not possible in these areas due to the way this machine learning forecast tool works. See https://enviwa.ecology.wa.gov/Documents/SmokeForecast.pdf for more details

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    4. Thank you. Is there a good way to get a view of the smoke over the Cascades? Satellite view somewhere?

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    5. In this case, the lack of data for those areas might best be represented in some way, rather than leaving those areas blank, which implies clear air. Similar to how some of the sensors on some maps report "ND" to indicate that data is not available.

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    6. You can see near real time sat imagery here: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/sector_band.php?sat=G17&sector=pnw&band=GEOCOLOR&length=48 and traffic cameras are useful: https://www.wsdot.com/traffic/cccam.aspx

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    7. Fantastic link Farren, thank you!

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  21. This blog has been the one good surprise of this miserable experience! Thanks for writing poetically about smoke :-)

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  22. Ranil, you have quite the fan club! How can we thank you when this is all over?

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  23. Thank you so much for all your hard work and for sharing these daily updates and explainers. In a scattered and often pay-walled news environment, I've found this to be the best public resource around. This situation has rendered us all pretty powerless. There are no giant fans to deploy, no spigots to open. The only thing we can control is our attitude and expectations and I really appreciate you giving folks the tools to do that. It's one of the few threads that's keeping me hanging on! My best to you and the whole WA Ecology crew. :)

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  24. love this site. Glad I found it and it is my "go to." Why are the models used ALWAYS wrong? Frustrating!

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    1. Remember "All models are wrong. Some are helpful".

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    2. That is the Gospel according to those of us who do computer modeling, know its limits, and what model results really represent - an approximation based on input and algorithms (and in some cases, bias). It is surprising how many people I have come across who get offended at that statement because they treat various model results as indisputable facts and we tell them they cannot do that.

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  25. I saw a comment yesterday stating that low-cost sensors like purple air are not at all accurate when gauging smokey conditions. Can you speak to this a bit more? Should we disregard this info even though it's included on the EPA map?

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    1. The low cost sensors are particle counters. They are very useful for tracking the presence of smoke, but are not actually measuring particle mass (which we normally convert to calculate the AQI). The Fire AirNow page uses a correction to the "default" values which should make them comparable to regulator monitors (but not equivalent). The purple air site also has a similar correction available called LRAPA. Also important to keep in mind that anyone can buy a low-cost sensor so QA/QC could be inconsistent.

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    2. Thank you so much! This explanation is helpful.

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  26. Questions, please:
    1. We are in an apartment in Seattle with no air purifiers or fans. Our windows and blinds have been closed for days, we stopped cooking, we rarely/barely smell smoke, we have no symptoms beyond an occasional dry eye, and we have no way of measuring our air quality. Can you ballpark estimate what the air quality is in our apartment? How worried should we be?

    2. When is it safe to open the windows (we’re thinking yellow / moderate) and what should we do to make our apartment safe (cleaning, what else) and ourselves safe (how to clear any particles we may have inhaled from our system)?

    To echo all your appreciative fans – thank you, thank you. We are grateful.

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    1. It's pretty impossible to guess what the air quality is in your apartment but if you're not noticing much in the way of symptoms then that's a good sign. And healthy people will typically not be affected by smoke for very long. And I would say that yes, once air quality reaches Moderate/Yellow, that would be a good time to open up doors and windows and dust and vacuum. Unless you can still smell smoke at your exact location that is.

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  27. Not only do I rely on the data and images, but I so appreciate your convivial, all-in-together writing tone!!! Thank you

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  28. You have all been truly amazing, none of us here can say it enough. I know I can’t be alone in trying to find hope, even though a lot of things here are unpredictable. Can we place some real hopes on Friday/Saturday here for western Washington? I know having a day to lookout for is easier.

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    1. Hi, at this point, its the only "real" hope we have. Not pinning too much on tonight's system.

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  29. Curious why the forecasts are thinking subsistence instead of worsening. I keep hearing we're going to be drawing in more smoke from the fires and we're obviously not clearing any of the present. Wouldn't that degrade air quality even more than current?

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    1. A little give & take. Slight clearing + some refilling. Not the same everywhere

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  30. When will the coast be clear? Oregon or Washington...

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    1. Hi Casey,
      It appears that the Oregon coast south of Tillamook is starting to clear. Air monitors are reading yellow and green!!! The clean air has not yet reached the northern Oregon coast or the Washington coast. Current forecasts are for those sites to start improving sometime on Thursday. When we start to see the coastal sites improve, inland sites may be expected to follow suit within the next several hours.

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  31. Thanks for the hard work in presenting complex data!

    A note for the site maintainers: the link on the Monitoring and Forecast tab for Washington's Air Monitoring Network is "https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/". It should be updated to "https://enviwa.ecology.wa.gov".

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  32. Out here in the foothills, the AQI was 235 just after midnight, 151 when I woke up, and 126 now. It sure looks to me like we’re seeing SOME improvement.

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  33. My wife and i have plans to visit the the Washington national parks from 9/18 to 9/29 (from Pennsylvania). I am trying to get a handle on the situation out there and make a decision about going or canceling the trip. Obviously hiking is our main objective, so if the smoke is going to make that impossible then we should reschedule. Thoughts? Is the smoke likely going to be an issue through next week?

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    1. Hello Anthony, no we dont think the smoke issues will persist into next week. Higher elevations are starting to show a little improvement already and we expect to be in much better shape by late this weekend. Cant entirely rule out smoke at all of our NPs, but a substantial improvement can be expected.

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    2. @Ranil -- do you expect these late-weekend improvements in Eastern Washington as well? Looking specifically at the Cle Elum area.

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  34. So appreciate your humor as you report the continuing bad news! You’re a breath of fresh air...so to speak... :-))

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  36. Adding to what others have stated here. Thank you so much for providing realistic and factual information. This is my go to source and sanity check every day.
    One possibly silly question. We live in the Seattle suburbs and air quality is consistently between 240-280. Is it better to avoid being near the windows or it does not matter where you are in the house? We are using one fan with a filter in our living room but I am not sure it is doing much in terms of purifying the air in a house with such an open layout as ours.

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    1. If PM2.5 is getting in to your house through the windows, it will disperse through the apartment fairly quickly. It doesn't matter where you are in the house. If the filter is getting dirty, it's working to some degree.

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  37. Hi! Thanks so much for this information, I start refreshing the page as soon as I wake up, your updates keep me going �� we are on a very poorly timed vacation on Whidbey Island, but live in Seattle. We have a 15 month old and the air quality seems much less harmful here than at home, so we've stayed despite being stuck inside the Airbnb, and are considering extending our stay through the end of the week to avoid the more harmful smoke. I wanted to ask whether you think it's worth it to stay here or if indoor air quality might be the same at home in Seattle? We have one air purifier with us here and a second smaller one at home, both with HEPA filters, so we are weighing the pros and cons of staying here with 1 purifier and slightly better outdoor air vs going home to Seattle with 2 purifiers and nearly hazardous air, and would love your perspective. Thank you!!!

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    1. It’s hard for us to know what the air quality will be like inside your home—and depends on the portable air cleaners and there may be differences in building characteristics and leakiness of your home vs AirBNB. It’s important that your HEPA portable air cleaner is rated for the size of the room it’s in (and doesn’t produce ozone), and then you will want to try and spend most of your time in that room and make it a “cleaner air room” (more info here: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire). Two HEPA portable air cleaners in one room is better than one, but it depends if you can keep the outdoor smoky air from coming into that room too. Whatever space you can keep your indoor air the cleanest/make the best “cleaner air room" will be best, but it's important to consider COVID-19 restrictions and follow best practices if travel is required to find cleaner air.

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  38. Thanks to Ranil and Ferron for your thoughtful and humorous postings keeping us informed. I would definitely like to see more data analysis, comparisons, etc. I pass along a lot of the information to my friends and neighbors who don't dive in to the smoke blog and AQI monitoring, and the info is appreciated. Government-funded science in the public interest is so important!! For those of us in the Tri-Cities, when the current smoke clears and you predict that some will come in to the Columbia Gorge from the Oregon fires to replace it, will it likely wrap around the hills and river valley to get to us in the lower Columbia Basin? Thank you!

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  39. You've been far more informative than many local broadcast news outlets. Thanks so much for all your work here!

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  40. I live in Ocean Shores WA. It's foggy here and rained overnight. I was walking my dogs just outside town today and some of the fog was clearing and blue sky was visible above. The light has been a natural color since yesterday and not orange. Also, no smell of smoke. It doesn't appear to be the unhealthy (red) level that shows on the map.

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  41. Are higher elevations looking better? Let's say over 5,000 ft?

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    1. Smoke is certainly thinning aloft, I can see the Olympics in the satellite pictures, but the Cascades are shrounded by clouds. Hard to tell from webcams but some low cost sensors in the hills have been seeing a dip lately

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  42. Any chance the smoke will start to clear in Chelan area by the weekend? We have a family trip planned that we've rescheduled 3x due to COVID, and now the smoke. I'm holding out hope!!!

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    1. Yes! There is good confidence this huge low pressure system off the coast is going to bring real moisture and northwest winds. This is a strong system... and should clear out any smoke by Saturday.

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  43. Ranil, we're seeing substantial improvement from 530s to 330s in Vancouver WA. The surface smoke forecast from NWS showing it coming back in a few hours. SAY IT ISNT SO! At 330 I can get AQ inside to moderate ish. We had like two hours of light peek through now it looks same 😭

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    1. There have been slight improvements like this in many places and I'm cautiously optimistic that the reductions in your area wont be completely offset by any new smoke. But its not enough to return the ambient air to USG or Moderate.

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  44. As for data products, I have heard that part of "the problem" (although many people define the problem differently) is more building in areas where fires burn - curious if we have any info on land development compared to where the fires are?

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  45. Is it safe for pets to go outside? What are the long term effects of the smoke on us and our animals? It's getting warm out today and I really want to open the barn door for fresh air but can't figure out if it is safe ywt

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    1. Hi Pig Mommy,
      Every person has different "safe" levels when it comes to PM2.5 and the same is true for animals. For personal health advice, it's best to contact your doctor. State guidelines recommend staying inside as much as possible and avoid physical activity outdoors. Unless your barn is well sealed and has filtered air, I suspect the air quality inside the barn is similar to outside and opening the door for some cooler (it's not fresh) air will not make much difference. If I'm wrong, you have a really nice barn and your pigs(?) are very lucky.

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    2. Here's a factsheet on livestock too! https://www.airnow.gov/sites/default/files/2019-03/protect-your-large-animals-and-livestock-from-wildfire-smoke.pdf

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  46. Your blog has become my favorite read everyday! Comforting to read a clear-minded and realistic science guy's blog, with humor even! Thank you, Ranil!

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  47. Ranil, I would love to see an update of the chart in "Where, o where, is my clean marine air?" It is tough to find the same, useful information time-sequenced, especially since it's hard for the novice to differentiate between clouds and smoke.

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  48. As a data nerd, I would love to look at more data! Thank you for all the work you put into trying to provide context and help us understand the challenges of smoke forecasting.

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  49. Hi, I was wondering why the air seems so much clearer in Oak Harbor than anywhere else? Thanks!

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    1. The satellite imagery shows a band of clean marine air that's getting channeled up against the Oregon coast and has carried some ventilation through the Sound a bit. There are several other monitors in Oregon and Washington showing some modest improvements as well.

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  50. Lots of questions about conditions at higher elevations. I've found it useful to check the Hurricane Ridge and Mt Rainier Paradise webcams. Certainly looks better today than at the surface with the Olympics looking better than the Cascades this morning. I've checked them occasionally in the last week, and the conditions have been variable at the higher elevations with some days worse than others. Of course, this is just a visual assessment, we don't really know the PM2.5 counts at those elevations. There are a number of webcams on US2 and I90 as well.

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  51. Ranil is that dude

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    1. No Kidding! Thanks Ranil and Farren!

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  52. I wondered your thoughts on the European Opernicus PM2.5 model that is available via the Windy app. It has been very accurate for the past few days, and never predicted that the smoke would clear prior to Fri/Sat which is now consistent with the HRRR. Is this due to a better model or are they using some sort of Machine Learning to enhance the forecast?

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    1. Jimmy we didnt use CAMS from last week onward because it was mixing way too much smoke down to the surface. Just unrealistic. CAMS doesnt use machine learning but data assimilation and ensemble modeling at 40km intervals. See https://www.regional.atmosphere.copernicus.eu/

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  53. Thanks for your blog. I'm in Eastern Wa. Tri-Cities desert and I swear, the grass seems to be greener and healthier now 1 week in. What up with that?

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    1. Isnt the grass always greener on the other side?

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    2. Grass enjoys shady weather in the 70-80s during the day! The greenest grass in my yard is always where there’s quite a bit of shade!

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  54. I have a Filtrete "smart air filter" app which is showing our outdoor ug/m3 having improved significantly into fair (35-50) range. Can anyone help me understand why this measurement would show such improvement but AGI is still in the hazardous range?

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    1. This is difficult to answer without knowing where the app is pulling air quality data from and how it is calculating air quality. Third party apps and air quality sites are not always transparent about how they collect and report their data. A few years ago I found a private air quality website reporting the AQI value as actual pollutant concentration, effectively turning 'good' air into 'poor' air and causing concern among some residents. The state and federal air quality maps are the gold standard and subject to constant data validation. If an air monitor breaks or is reporting bad data, we can take it off-line within hours and invalidate the data.

      The second possibility is the air quality near your house may have improved, while air quality at the nearest official monitor was still poor. For example, air quality can improve or worsen with changes in altitude or in different air sheds. The AQI assigned to your location is based on surrounding air monitors, but may not be accurate for your location. Without knowing where you are located, I cannot say if this may be what is occurring in your case.

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  55. 1 pm Tuesday. Actually saw the sun in Sammamish for past half hour. Shadows on the ground, and very slight discernible breeze...even a slightly blue cast to the sky. Am I hallucinating?

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    1. Maybe. ;) Just keep in mind there are layers in the atmosphere a lot of smoke aloft can turn the sun red, while air quality at the surface is good. On the flip side, a thin layer of PM2.5 pollution near the surface may not be visible, while air quality is still bad. Best bet is to rely on the closest air quality monitor.

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  56. Hi there. Thanks for all your work. Here on Beacon Hill in Seattle the sun is poking through, I can see blue sky, and there is a bit of breeze. Should these signs give me any hope? Or am I reading too much into things?

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    1. I'd like to know this as well. Columbia City...

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    2. Some slight improvements are indeed happening. Mostly smoke aloft eroding away

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  57. First off thank you so much for your honest and sincere approach to making the science behind these patterns approachable!

    I'd love to see some sort of analysis or data specifically about the Tri-Cities/Umatilla area of the Basin. We seem to be in this certain zone where smoke tends to congregate and linger - like a giant crossroads. I've only been living here a few years but the smoke trends have become fascinating (if not awful to live with).

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  58. At Crescent Bar, the air is markedly better today, so far. Its been the same here as Quincy and George but today visibility is vastly improved. I live in George, but my house is old and drafty so me and my cat who has asthma went to mom's place down there at Crescent Bar which is a much better sealed building. Overnight it was as bad as the worst its been but at this time, it is a lot better. I don't know what its like up in Quincy or George right now. When I came down here a few days ago the public campground was just as busy as a normal weekend, RV's everywhere, families with their BBQ's kids on bikes and all that and even a few boats about the river that you couldn't see the other side of

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  59. Thank you for the excellent info! Totally appreciate it!

    Can you give any info about how helpful hepa air filters are inside our homes? Do they help a lot?

    Thanks again!

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    1. The California Air Resources Board has great info portable air cleaners with HEPA filters: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/air-cleaners-ozone-products/air-cleaner-information-consumers

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    2. Another good article is here:
      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/smarter-living/what-to-know-before-buying-an-air-purifier.html
      What I like about that article is it explains clearly what to look for regarding CADR numbers. "Some models may list a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) rating. This measures the volume of air that will pass through the unit, telling you how efficiently the model will work depending on the size of the room. Mr. Heffernan suggested looking for a CADR rating of at least 200 or more for tobacco smoke (ratings are also given for dust and pollen). That means the unit effectively delivers the equivalent of 200 cubic feet of pure air per minute to a smoky room." Note the number of exchanges per hour is very important too.

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  60. It's been clearing since about 9am here in Plain (upper Wenatchee valley, up valley from Leavenworth). Blue skies, and the occasional light breeze which indicates to me that we're getting mixing down from above. The monitor down the valley in Leavenworth is showing dramatic and objective improvement and is now in the USG category, as of about 2pm 9/15.

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  61. Why can’t we use cloud seeding to fight these fires, and therefore the smoke as well? I understand it wouldn’t be possible during the dry conditions that caused the fires in the first place, since seeding essentially just “squeezes” a bit more precipitation out clouds, but why can’t they now that it has been much more humid? (especially on the west side of Oregon)

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    1. I've never heard of cloud seeding as a solution for wildfire suppression. Rain always helps but it's surprising how much water it takes to really put an end to a wildfire. Even the big water drops from planes and helicopters are typically only useful for small portions of the fire where concerns are urgent. Fire meteorologists talk about "season ending events" when we get a big rain storm in the fall but summer clouds, when present, don't contain much water.

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    2. Fires put up a lot of "seeds", also known as cloud condensation nuclei. When relative humidity reaches 100%, water condenses on particles. Once condensation is initiated, clouds drops will continue to grow until they are large enough to fall as precipitation. If there are a lot of seeds, the available water is spread out across them and droplets don't grow as large and less rain may fall. The smoke is providing a LOT of seeds. The thick smoke is also creating an inversion by not letting sunlight through to heat the surface and create thermal lift, cloud formation is further suppressed. The take home is, adding more seeds in this case will not likely create more rain.

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  62. You guys are awesome, thank you so much for working on keeping us informed and on trying to incorporate the smoke into your models. Unfortunately, these models might come in handy in future years.

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  63. Hello! Any updates on when Spokane can expect to see clearing? While we're down 200 points from a couple days ago we're still hovering in the hazardous range with no apparent end in sight. Seeing us as the only dark purple on the map is very discouraging. Please give me some hope! I have a 4 month old and 3 year old and starting to feel a little desperate for some fresh air! Thanks for this informative blog.

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  64. I so appreciate your knowledge and perspective on this situation! Clearly presented and highly interesting for a novice like me! Thank you!!

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  65. I left a comment earlier about Crescent Bar being clearer, but at this time, 6pm its just as bad as it was before.

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  66. Remember, the rain is toxic waste.

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  67. I'm just a general citizen in Richland WA. I am confused in spite of your explanation of AQI vs WA today. It appears from your table that the actual readings are the same but the categorization of those readings is the difference. However...
    Right now the Kennewick Metaline AQI numbers are PM 2.5:181; PM 10 181:0; Index 186; at 2PM Thursday 9/17. The instantaneous WAQA numbers
    at 3PM from Kennewick Metaline are PM 2.5: 246; PM 10: 175; and Index 247. These numbers haven't changed much today so the difference in time isn't the explanation.

    Help me understand please. Thanks!

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  68. Hello Richland citizen, I'm looking at Kennewick's numbers right now. First the state map: the WAQA value is currently 247 and this corresponds to a PM2.5 concentration of 112(most recent) to 115(second most recent)ug/m3. You can get the actualy concentration by clicking on Kennewick monitor and then clicking on the dashboard.

    Now if I look at the same monitor on fire.airnow.gov, the AQI value is 181 and this corresponds to a PM2.5 concentration of 112 to 115 ug/m3, same as above. You can get this by clicking on the monitor and it shows the AQI values, but you can choose a tab that says concentration. Same concentration different index values.

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