Tuesday, July 27, 2021

7/27/2021 Smoke Blog Update

We've implemented a minor redesign to the blog and added a new tab for our readers to quickly and easily access the custom smoke forecasts prepared by Air Resource Advisors assigned to incident management teams working in Washington. Notice the new tab along the top border of the blog content area and click on "LOCAL SMOKE OUTLOOKS" to access the forecasts.

Interested in smoke forecasts prepared for other states? You can find the full set of smoke outlooks prepared by Air Resource Advisors at this link: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks  

Monday, July 26, 2021

North Central WA Smoke Outlook for 7/26 - 7/27


 

7/26/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.


 

Monday, July 26, 2021 - Smoke Outlook for Colville Reservation #ColvilleReservationFires

A detailed version of this Outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/newashington


*This Outlook was produced through the support of the incident management teams assigned to the Summit Trail and Chuweah Creek fires on the Colville Reservation to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pronostico de Humo para 25/07 - 26/07 North Central Washington Cedar Ck, Delancy, Cub Creek 2


 

Smoke Outlook for 7/25 - 7/26 North Central Washington


 

7/25/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.


 

Sunday, July 25, 2021 - Smoke Outlook for Colville Reservation #ColvilleReservationFires

A detailed version of this Outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/newashington

*This Outlook was produced through the support of the incident management teams assigned to the Summit Trail and Chuweah Creek fires on the Colville Reservation to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.
 


Saturday, July 24, 2021

7/24/2021 What's an Air Resource Advisor?

Have you noticed some of the smoke outlooks created specifically for areas around the Methow Valley, Colville Reservation, and SE Washington that are being posted to the Washington Smoke Blog? These forecasts are being created every day by Air Resource Advisors - also known as ARA's - assigned to the incident management teams in charge of managing wildfires in the area. ARA's are trained specialists who can be dispatched to an incident management team to assist with understanding and predicting smoke impacts on the public and fire personnel. ARA's have expertise in air quality science, air quality monitoring, smoke modeling, pollutant health thresholds, and communicating about smoke risks and methods of mitigation. 

Air Resource Advisors:

  • Use sophisticated smoke dispersion models to predict air quality conditions in smoke impacted communities,
  • Install and operate air quality monitors in communities underrepresented by state monitors (notice the triangles on the monitoring map above - those extra monitors for Mazama and Oroville were installed by our ARA on the Methow area fires),
  • Participate in public meetings and media events to help explain air quality conditions, relay information on potential health effects, and advise on strategies people can take to protect their health,
  • Assist incident safety officers and others addressing incident personnel impacts from smoke.

If you attend a public meeting sponsored by one of the teams managing a fire with an ARA assigned to it, you'll get a chance to hear a little more about current and forecast air quality conditions in the area, and get any questions you may have answered. Many thanks to Tonya, John, and Katy for helping out as ARA's on fires here in Washington this year!

·     

Smoke Outlook for 7/24 to 7/25 Norrh Central Washington Cedar Ck, Delancy, Cub Ck 2


 

7/24/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.


 

Saturday, July 24, 2021 - Smoke Outlook for Colville Reservation #ColvilleReservationFires

A detailed version of this Outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/newashington

*This Outlook was produced through the support of the incident management teams assigned to the Summit Trail and Chuweah Creek fires on the Colville Reservation to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.
 


Friday, July 23, 2021

Smoky starts continue in the Methow

Day after day, the Methow Valley has woken up to a thick haze of smoke coming from the nearby Cedar Creek, Cub Creek and Delancy wildfires, leading the valley to experience what has been the worst air quality readings in the entire country (potentially even the planet, according to the National Weather Service).

As temperatures cool overnight, the smoke settles into the valley like a blanket, and residents face starting the day with air quality in the very unhealthy to hazardous range. As the day goes on, the sun warms the surface and allows the smoke to mix up into the atmosphere, somewhat improving air quality.

It’s a frustrating pattern that appears to be set to continue through the weekend and into next week.
Tweet from National Weather Service saying that air quality in the Methow may be the worst on the planet

When air quality is in this unhealthy range, people should try to stay indoors as much as possible, with the doors and windows closed. Setting the air conditioning to recirculate, or using a HEPA portable air cleaner, allows the air in the room to repeatedly pass through the filter, scrubbing the smoke particles out of the air. Likewise, if you’re in your car, set the air conditioning to recirculate. And, if you must be outside, wear an N95 mask if possible, and try not to stay out too long.

Air quality readings in the Methow Valley have been unhealthy or worse.

Clean Air Methow and the University of Washington Department of Environment and Occupational Health Sciences have a brochure with tips and strategies to stay healthy during these extended periods of wildfire smoke - https://deohs.washington.edu/sites/default/files/Smoke_brochure_web_MERV_13.pdf.

On a related note, remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and significant concerns remain about the potential for wildfire smoke to exacerbate the disease. For more information about COVID-19 and wildfire smoke this season visit the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke from Fires page.

Smoke covers the Methow Valley Airport in this WSDOT photo.

The Department of Ecology extended an Air Quality Alert for Okanogan County through at least the weekend. Asotin and Ferry counties are also under an Air Quality Alert, although we’re not expecting the smoke impacts there to be as bad as what the Methow is facing.

It’s not all bad news from these super-stable weather patterns, however: West of the mountains, it continues to be a glorious summer with endless blue-sky days and air quality firmly fixed in the “good” category.

If you are a west-sider, spare a thought for your neighbors to the east as you enjoy another beautiful weekend.

 

Pronóstico de Humo para 23/07 - 24/07 North Central Washington Cedar Ck, Delancy, Cub Creek 2


 

Friday, July 23, 2021 - Smoke Outlook for Colville Reservation #ColvilleReservationFires

A detailed version of this Outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/newashington

*This Outlook was produced through the support of the incident management teams assigned to the Summit Trail and Chuweah Creek fires on the Colville Reservation to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts. 
 


7/23/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

 

North Central Washington Smoke Outlook for 7/23 - 7/24


 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pronostico de Humo para 22/07 - 23/07 North Central Washington Cedar Ck, Delancy, Cub Creek 2


 

7/22/2021 Smoke Outlook for North Central Washington Areas near the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 Wildfires


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington

*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021 - Smoke Outlook for Colville Reservation #ColvilleReservationFires

A detailed version of this Outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/newashington

*This Outlook was produced through the support of the incident management teams assigned to the Summit Trail and Chuweah Creek fires on the Colville Reservation to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts. 

7/22/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

7/21/2021 Smoke Outlook for North Central Washington Areas near the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 Wildfires

 

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington


*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

7/21/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

7/20/2021 Smoke Outlook for North Central Washington Areas near the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 Wildfires

 


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington


*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

7/20/21 Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge


 

A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 

 *This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Second verse, same as the first

We’re in a bit of a holding pattern to start the week: That’s good news if you’re in western Washington, where onshore winds will continue to keep the smoke at bay and maintain air quality in the green zone. Less good if you’re in north-central or southeast Washington, where large fires are producing a significant amount of smoke, which you can see by the dark maroon (hazardous) and light purple (very unhealthy) and red (unhealthy) on our monitoring map this morning.

Hazardous air quality on monitors near Winthrop
Air quality in those areas should improve as the day goes on and the warmth of the sun increases mixing in the atmosphere, allowing some of that smoke to dissipate. Still, expect air quality in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or Unhealthy range in Mazama, Winthrop, Twisp and surrounding communities.

Mean daily air quality readings in E. WA cities

In Clarkston and nearby communities, air quality should improve to the Moderate range as the day goes on, but expect to wake up to poor air quality conditions throughout the week. Southeast Washington is getting a glancing shot from smoke coming from the massive Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, although the bulk of the smoke there is still coming from local fires.
Smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon - NWS

Because of those air quality impacts in central and eastern Washington, we’ve again extended our Air Quality Alert for Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Okanogan, Stevens and Whitman counties until further notice. Finally, thunderstorms are in the forecast again this week, and the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning through Wednesday for much of eastern Washington because of the elevated fire danger. 

We’ve got a long ways to go in this fire season yet, so stay safe out there.

7/19/2021 Smoke Outlook for North Central Washington Areas near the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 Wildfires

 


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: 
https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington


*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.


7/19/2021 Smoke Outlook for South East Washington and Other Areas Downwind of the Lick Creek Fire




 A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/sewashington 


*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

7/18/2021 Smoke Outlook for North Central Washington


 A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington


*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

7/17/2021 Smoke Outlook for N. Central Washington


A detailed version of this outlook with live links can be found here: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/northcentralwashington

*This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Cedar Creek, Delancy, and Cub Creek 2 fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Cool southwest winds = cloudier + smoke- free skies in Western WA. Head east for sunshine + heat + smoke

'nuff said about western WA, although the satellite map overlaid with fine particle pollution data is worth a glance. Green circles = Good air.

Judging by monitor readings, much of the smoke over parts of eastern WA is staying overhead and not mixing down to ground level. A strong-ish push of marine air since last evening has scoured out a lot of the smoke and will "cool" temperatures into the mid 80's/ low 90's today. Welcome relief... for now.

But these winds are also raising the stakes in the fire danger game. There is a small risk of dry thunderstorms on Saturday night. For Sunday and later, expect more warming and reduced smoke dispersion.

There is an Air Quality Alert in effect covering the areas below. 

North central WA

Fires burning in the Methow valley and on the Colville Reservation are puffing a lot of smoke, but the Red Apple fire west of Wenatchee is not. Models suggest most of this smoke will not accumulate until Sunday or later, except of course right by the fires. 

The wildcard however is new fires. 

Southeastern WA

The Lick Creek fire in Asotin County is expected to continue emitting smoke, but again, the build-up of smoke will mostly be confined to the vicinity of the fires until late in the weekend. Smoke from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon will also deal a glancing blow to this area under southwesterly winds. The Dept of Ecology's 5-day smoke forecast (which also has clickable pop-ups for each area), shows the air degrading to USG on occasion. 



Lick Creek Smoke Outlook - Friday, July 16, 2021


  Please note, this outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Lick Creek Smoke Outlook - July 15, 2021


 Note: This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Lick Creek Smoke Outlook - July 14, 2021

Note: This outlook was produced through the support of the incident management team assigned to the Lick Creek fire to help inform nearby communities of smoke impacts

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

New and continued fire growth affecting air quality

Many residents of Central and Eastern Washington have been getting impacted by new and existing fires in the region, with the worst smoke impacts occurring in the cooler hours.  The air has been getting a little better today as the smoke stays mostly aloft, but it will stick around with more smoke to be generated this week.

Nespelem (Colville Reservation):  The Chuweah Creek fire and other lightning ignitions in the area started yesterday in timber, grass, and brush.  Information is limited but some estimates show over 12,000 acres have burned in the area, with 3 homes lost.  Evacuations are in effect and structures are still threatened.  Thick plumes can be seen traveling south today in the GOES imagery, with sensors reporting USG to Unhealthy air in the Grand Coulee area.  Winds will likely push smoke east over the next few days, and fire growth is expected.

Asotin:  The Lick Creek fire grew nearly 9,000 acres yesterday and has burned over 55,000 acres in grass and brush since it started on July 7.  Crews are working hard to manage the fire.  A lot of the smoke will continue to move south, but residents in Clarkston and Asotin will continue to experience USG air intermittently throughout the week.

Mazama (NW of Methow): The Varden and Cedar Creek fires grew 400 acres yesterday and have burned almost 1,000 acres in timber.  The Methow Valley has had Moderate to USG air and this will likely continue throughout the week, depending on fire activity. 

N. of Yakima: The Burbank fire grew 6,000 acres yesterday in grass and brush and has burned 13,000 acres since July 10.  Smoke has caused intermittent Moderate air in the area.  Good news though, evacuations have been cancelled as the fire crews have made good progress and secured containment lines along I-82.   

Canadian smoke has also been impacting residents around Oroville, as over 300 fires burn in B.C. Expected winds this week should clear out the current Unhealthy air, but nighttime stability will allow intermittent smoke impacts in the area throughout the week.

Seattle and the rest of Western Washington should be clear of smoke for the week, with perhaps some intermittent Moderate air.

A fire weather watch is in effect for Central and Eastern Washington from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening. Gusty winds and low relative humidity will cause fires to spread more easily.  A cold front should move through Thursday and increase relative humidity, but winds will still be a concern for fire growth.  Looks like it's going to be more ups and downs with the weather!  Please use caution when recreating or working near dry vegetation, as fire can ignite and spread easily in these conditions. 




 

Monday, July 12, 2021

07/12/2021 Wildfires in and Around Washington

Update 2 (7/13/21): New large fire "Chuweah Creek" north of Coulee Dam, near Nespelem on the Colville Reservation.

Update since posting*: The Dry Gulch Fire has been renamed Lick Creek.

Wildfire season has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and we have a few fires of note in Washington. The largest is the Dry Gulch fire in the SE corner of the state. Much of the smoke from this fire is traveling east today and into Idaho but that was not the case a couple of days ago when monitors from Dayton to Clarkston and surrounding areas registered smoky conditions. Dry Gulch has a Type 1 incident management team assigned meaning it’s recognized as a complex wildfire. We expect a specialist called an Air Resource Advisor to arrive later in the week to provide some extra focus on air quality forecasting for the vicinity. The Green Ridge fire is also burning in the area. Though not in Washington, the Snake River Complex in Idaho is nearby and could cause smoke issues in Washington depending on wind direction.

Dry Gulch. IMT1. 2 mi SW of Asotin, WA. Start 7/7. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 46,352 acres. (+8,129) 20% containment. Active fire behavior. Grass and brush. Structures threatened. Evacuations in effect. Road, trail and area closures. Details on Dry Gulch  available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7615/

Green Ridge. IMT2. 30 mi E of Walla Walla, WA. Start 7/7. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 175 acres (+32). 0% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber and grass. Road, trail and area closures. Details on Green Ridge available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7628/

Details on Snake River Complex available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7636/

Above: Map showing wildfires in the vicinity of SE Washington for 7/12/2021. Bright red spots show where significant heat has been detected by satellite in the last 12 hours.

 In addition, there are two new fires in Washington that are not very large at the moment although they are contributing smoke to the Methow Valley area from Mazama to Brewster and over to Omak. The Varden fire is close enough to the road that the State Dept. of Transportation has closed Hwy 20. Got Facebook? The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Facebook page is a great source for local fire information. https://www.facebook.com/OkaWenNF/

Varden. 5 mi southwest of Mazama, WA. Start 7/11. Monitor/Confine/Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 700 acres. 0% contained. Moderate fire behavior. Timber.

Cedar Creek. 5 mi southwest of Mazama, WA. Start 7/8. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 75 acres. 0% contained. Moderate fire behavior. Timber.

Above: Map showing wildfires in the vicinity of Mazama, WA on 7/12/2021. Bright red spots show where significant heat has been detected by satellite in the last 12 hours.

And there is one more fire in Washington that is causing some trouble. The Burbank fire near Yakima and Selah is impacting travel on I-82. The fire seems to be burning mostly in light brush and grass fuels so is not putting out large amounts of smoke.

Burbank. 8 mi northeast of Yakima, WA. Start 7/10. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 6,000 acres. 10% contained. Extreme fire behavior. Grass and brush. Structures threatened. Evacuations in effect. Road, trail and area closures. Details on Burbank available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7650/

 

Above: Map showing the location of the Burbank fire on 7/12/2021. Bright red spots show where significant heat has been detected by satellite in the last 12 hours.

So that concludes the summary of significant wildfires in Washington as of today. There are also wildfires all around us from British Columbia, to Oregon, to Idaho but for now at least, most of the smoke from these fires is staying away with the exception of a little high elevation haze visible on the west side of the state, and some haze plus low levels of smoke at the surface in NE Washington.

The best way to help our firefighters this year? Be careful out there so we can keep human caused fires to a minimum!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Washington is in the import-export business

Of smoke, that is. 

Here is yesterday's daily average estimated fine particle pollution map. "Estimated" because it is a satellite- derived product. Satellites can't decipher the height at which smoke is present; they only see all the vertically integrated smoke in the atmosphere. Various algorithms are used to estimate how much of this is present at ground level. Without reading too much into the absolute numbers, we can see where the smoke is coming from and going to. 


Give a little

The fires near Asotin (Silcott, Dry Gulch and Lick Creek) are problematic for nearby WA and ID communities (read: export). We expect Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups air in the area for the next few days. 

Take a little

Some smoke from wildfires in southern British Columbia is drifting over the north central part of the state (read: import). While most of it will remain aloft for now, some splotches of Moderate air can't be ruled out this afternoon. Smoke from southern Oregon fires will also fly over the south central and southeastern part of the state tomorrow. Enjoy the pretty sunsets.

Overall synopsis

No other major smoke concerns for now thanks to favorable winds, but those happy-go-lucky days are numbered because new fires are an ongoing concern (see the Red Flag warning). Please do your part to prevent fires.  


Friday, July 2, 2021

Independence day weekend smoke forecast, and a task for everyone

Satellite imagery and ground- based fine particle pollution monitoring data show that smoke from the Lytton fire in British Columbia and the Lava Fire in northern California is mostly overhead right now. Gray polygons are smoke plumes (darker gray = denser smoke) and the circles/ squares are monitors measuring Good (and some Moderate) air quality. 


Forecast models are showing that some of this smoke will make it down to the surface in eastern WA later today. This is also true for the higher terrain of the Cascades. However we're not expecting anything worse than Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Please continue to follow the five-day smoke forecast

We're expecting winds to shift July 4-5, which should improve air quality statewide... if we can avoid any new fires. Local fireworks shows could result in levels as high as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups near the demonstrations. 

Puget Sound lowlands forecast

We do not expect smoke to reach the ground in most of western WA, so air quality should be mostly Good to Moderate. A few pretty sunsets are possible. 

Be Ready to Protect Your Health

Now that wildfires are here, it’s time to be prepared to protect ourselves from the smoke that comes along with them. Stock up on necessary supplies, like MERV 13 filters for DIY box fan filters or upgrading your HVAC system—they fly off the shelf when the smoke gets bad. For more information check out the health tab or visit WA DOH’s Smoke from Fires webpage.

And lastly, a task for everyone

We encourage our readers to submit brief comments explaining creative ways they celebrate our Independence, while minimizing fire and smoke risks. Sometime next week, we'll publish our top picks from the submissions. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Monday, June 28, 2021

It isn't wildfire smoke in Western WA. Its called Biogenic Secondary Organic Aerosol

Say what?

First, there is no major infusion of wildfire smoke into Western WA. Satellite imagery shows hardly a cloud or wisp of smoke over the last 3 days. However several fine particle pollution monitors have been showing air in the Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range. 

So whodunit?

The ridge of high pressure over the state giving us this extreme heat is also responsible for forcing air downward and trapping pollutants within a shallow layer. This is known as a subsidence inversion. Since winds are relatively light, all the pollution generated by human activities tends to accumulate over time. But that's not all.

Trees also emit organic gases such as terpenes and isoprene, more so on hot days. These pollutants of biogenic origin undergo various complex chemical reactions in the atmosphere, giving rise to small particles known as Secondary Organic Aerosols (SOA). "Secondary" because the aerosols are not released directly from sources but formed as a result of subsequent physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere. The diurnal nature of the elevated pollution levels over the last few days are consistent with how we expect biogenic SOA to behave. A WSU air quality model is showing the same thing.


 Biogenic emissions are also one of the ingredients of ground level ozone, aka "smog" formation. They react with oxides of nitrogen (mostly from traffic and industrial sources) under the right meteorological conditions to form ozone. All those factors came together yesterday and will do so again today to cause high ozone levels in the Cascade Foothills of King and Pierce counties. Expect air to be in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or even Unhealthy range on account of this. An Air Quality Alert is in effect. 

Skip the tech talk. When will it go away?

Starting tomorrow. 

As the thermal trough shifts inland and reduces western WA temperatures somewhat, biogenic emissions reduce and so does SOA formation. So we expect fine particle pollution levels to be around the Good/ Moderate level from tomorrow onward if there are no new fires. Please see the forecast map above. Ozone formation will also relax a bit. [Side note: please do your part to prevent fires during this time of extreme fire risk. There are Red Flag Warnings about this]. 

What about eastern WA?

A 20,000 acre brushfire near the town of Lind is causing quite a bit of smoke locally. Winds are initially shifting the plumes westward, before driving it toward the Spokane area starting Wednesday. If the fire is still burning, that is. Moderate air is expected, with worse conditions closer to the fire.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Be #SmokeReady2021

 



Now's the perfect time to get prepared for potential smoke from wildfire in 2021. As we in the Northwest know, wildfire smoke lingering in the air makes it hard to breathe and can cause or worsen health problems. Agencies throughout Washington have partnered to promote Smoke Ready Week, June 14-18. You'll find helpful tips to lessen the impact of smoke at Washington Department of EcologyWashington Department of Health, Washington Department of Natural ResourcesSpokane Clean Air Agencythe Colville Tribe, EPA, and other state and federal partners using the hashtag #SmokeReady2021. Be sure to check out the smoke blogs of our neighbors in Idaho and Oregon too.

Here's our 10 Tips for planning ahead to protect you and your family from smoke, including Washington Dept. of Health's guidance on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New smoke forecast tool

The map on this blog's webpage now includes a smoke forecast tool. It adds a layer to the Washington state map and gives the color-coded AQI forecast for every region in Washington. Currently it's a 2-day forecast, but watch for the expanded 5-day smoke forecast within the next week. Now you can plan ahead for that weekend trip to the lake!