Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Northwest pattern is back. Except near fires, we’re clear of regional smoke.

 This week is a great time to appreciate the classics, at least when it comes to Pacific Northwest weather patterns. 

Map of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho shows Friday and Saturday rain forecasts of small fractions of an inch.
End of the week rain outlook for
Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.
A low pressure system arrived late Monday from the North Pacific, bringing some rain showers to some of the fires burning in northern Washington. The system is finishing its pass over the region. A similar batch of rain, clouds and cooler temperatures should arrive late Friday. Not a ton of rain, so don’t pin too many hopes on it.

 In the meantime, we’ll have two days of high pressure weather, bringing light winds and warmer temperatures, but at seasonal levels.

 This between-storms weather will mean that smoke from fires on the east Cascade slopes and northeastern high country will affect nearby areas intermittently. The low pressure system’s cooler air and precipitation should dampen fire intensity, and give fire crews a boost in their containment efforts. Higher winds are part of the low pressure package, though, with their mixed blessing. The winds bring in fresh air, but fan fires, too.

A weather satellite photo of Washington this morning,
with smoke plumes visible from fires in
Okanogan, Chelan and Yakima counties. 

 With localized smoke remaining a concern, the Department of Ecology issued an Air Quality Alert for Okanogan, Ferry, Chelan, and Yakima counties until further notice.

 As for the classics, more low pressure systems may be on the way, interspersed with calm, warmer high pressure. A pattern like that confines smoke to communities around fires, often extending several dozen miles downwind, during the calmer phases.

 When the light summer storms pass by they bring at least cooler temperatures, if not precipitation. On a cloudy or rainy Washington weekend, that’s still a breath of fresh air.

 Please check this blog’s Local Smoke Outlooks tab for more about smoke conditions around Washington’s areas with major wildfires.


  1. We are trying to decide whether to visit 3 National Parks North Cascades, Olympia and Mount Rainier in 7 days. We plan on hiking everyday but I do have asthma. Just trying to figure out if this is safe or post phone till fires slow down or end? Any suggestions are welcome! Thank you.

    1. At this point, it looks like Mt Rainier and North Cascades may experience some light smoke this weekend and the middle of next week. However, the main wind pattern is from west to east, which should help clear out any smoke that does show up. The Olympics looks clear throughout.

  2. Thanks very much for the coordination and updates, guys

  3. Why is the smoke pooling in Yakima today? =( it’s awful =(

    1. Josh, smoke from the Schneider Springs fire near Naches is draining into the valley. Winds are light so smoke is not expected to disperse much until this evening. After a little relief, things will worsen again tomorrow. Please see the forecast map at the top of this page and the resources on this blog to safeguard your health.


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