The frontal system and high winds that screamed through Washington yesterday caught hold of many seemingly human-caused ignitions starts. It was a historically tragic day of significant fire growth that lead to multiple evacuations, homes and businesses lost, dust storms, traffic accidents, roads closed, and thick smoky air across large parts of the state. Fires in Central WA made large runs, traveling many miles, with more land burned than what we normally see in an entire year.
Heavy smoke is still being generated from the Inchelium and Cold Springs / Pearl Hill fires. Communities in Okanogan and bordering counties (Chelan, Ferry, Douglas) are going to continue to see fire and smoke for the foreseeable future. As winds push through the Columbia Basin, some of that smoke will also travel southwest and intermittently send smoke to Central WA.
A lot of the smoke in Western and Central WA cleared out this morning, but calmer winds in the the northern half of Washington haven't allowed the air to clear. There is still Moderate to Unhealthy air being monitored from Tacoma to Bellingham and out to the peninsula. Smoke can be seen in many mountain valleys and this could stick around for the day, sloshing around the greater Puget Sound region and likely heading south back towards Tacoma/Olympia. There are also many new fires being detected today in Western Washington. This NWCG link shows fire detects over the past day and new emerging fire locations.
Map of Air Quality and Smoke from Fires (Sept 8, 2020 @ 1 pm)
Today's animated GOES imagery
shows new fire activity in Skamania county from the Big Hollow fire (over 6,000 acres), which is sending a thick smoke
plume across SouthWest Washington and NW Oregon. This fire will likely
continue to send smoke west today and tomorrow and could travel north to Olympia/Tacoma along with Oregon smoke on Thursday. Oregon has some very large fires,
with the Lionshead and Beachie Creek pouring thick smoke into the air.
SouthWestern Washington should expect smoke impacts from Oregon starting
Many people are wondering where to go to escape the smoke, but conditions are dynamic and changing quickly, so most communities should be prepared to stay indoors. There are several things you can do to keep your home's air quality smoke free, discussed on the Health Information page of this blog.
Western Washington is under a Red Flag Warning for high winds and fire danger! Please do your part to keep fire off the ground! RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 PM PDT THURSDAY FOR GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY, AS WELL AS HOT, DRY, AND UNSTABLE CONDITIONS FOR FIRE WEATHER ZONES.