Friday, October 14, 2022

Friday AM Update for the Central Puget Sound: leftovers, and a smoky weekend...

Unfortunately, smoke still lingers in the Puget Sound region. We didn't get much clearing last night and started today off with mostly UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS and some UNHEALTHY and MODERATE air quality readings. The Bolt Creek, White River, and Suiattle River fires are the main contributing factors, as well as some from the North Cascades fires.

See the satellite image below from 10 AM:

Keep in mind that some of the thickness (opacity) of the plumes you see is water on the smoke particles. These particles will dry out and thin a bit with the sun and warmer temps. We didn't get much clearing overnight, or at least as much as we've had some of our past few nights, so the Lynnwood-Tacoma corridor is starting off  in the mostly UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS range. I do expect some winds this afternoon to help disperse and thin out the smoke a bit and push it south and east, but overall, I don't think we'll get a good clearing. 

The longer-term concern is that tonight through Sunday, easterly winds should pick up in the Cascades, and the central Puget Sound is expected to get a fairly direct feed from the Bolt Creek and White River fires. There is major concern for smoke impacts, and also for flaring up of the fires (which isn't in my prediction skill set). The Suiattle River fire will also be impacting SR 530 and Darrington fairly directly with UNHEALTHY air quality expected through Sunday. The US 2 corridor is also likely to have UNHEALTHY air quality, while the rest of Puget Sound will probably be in UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS or UNHEALTHY levels. The smoke could easily push further west into Mason and Jefferson Counties, and further south into Thurston and Lewis Counties. 

Later Saturday and into Sunday (15th and 16th), the winds are likely to shift a bit more to the northwest, so the smoke should head out to the Strait. The south Sound may get a break from the direct supply of smoke earlier than the north, but it's unclear how much improvement they'll see. In any case, no major clearing event is expected and Monday could return to our day-night 'sloshing' with smoke overnight and modest clearing during the daytime hours. 

The major pattern change we're hoping for is expected by next Saturday or Sunday (22nd or 23rd).


If you plan on traveling to the Okanogan-Wenatchee forest for hunting season, be aware that Stage 1 burn restrictions are in effect. Campfires are ONLY permitted in designated campgrounds and wilderness areas due to increased risk of fires. 

ALWAYS check for burn bans before lighting a campfire. Many other burn bans are in place around the state. You can find additional information on burn bans on Ecology's Burn Ban webpage. 

Also, there are numerous Air Quality Alerts in effect throughout the weekend and into Monday in much of the state. 

Use the blue horizontal scroll bar on the map above this post for the 5-day smoke forecast and to check air quality monitors.

Visit the Health Information tab on this page for tips on how to protect yourself. Meanwhile, help keep the air you breathe clean by keeping doors and windows closed, setting your vehicle's AC to 'recirculate' and making a clean air fan:  


  1. We have three, Blue Air air purifiers going nonstop in the house. All windows and doors are closed. Would you consider it safe enough with
    this bad air to use our treadmill inside for cardio?

    1. Inside is probably fine no matter what unless you have major leaks. Even better with purifiers.

    2. It's hard to determine exactly if it's "safe enough," without using a monitor to measure indoor smoke (PM 2.5) levels. But, three air purifiers, and closing windows and indoors will definitely help keep indoor air cleaner than outside. It's important that they are rated for the size of the room (sq. footage) they are in. To be cautious since you don't know the inside levels, if air quality outside is very unhealthy or hazardous, consider a walk on your treadmill instead or keeping activity on the lighter side. The harder you exercise the heavier you breath and the more smoke you will be exposed to.

  2. Question - would it be possible to get a bit more information on the impacts in the Columbia river valley with these postings? Wenatchee / Chelan / Leavenworth area have been under some fairly heavy smoke as well with this event, but the information presented in these seems to be more focused typically on the Seattle area and often doesn't mention points east with much detail if at all.

  3. Maybe people in positions of power will start questioning the USFS policy to “let it burn” because this “good fire” it’s obviously not good smoke. I get you can’t put firefighters i. Harms way and have heard all the “not enough resources” excuses but these fires started small in August. Obviously the forest health benefits far outweigh the public health disaster these fires are creating. Mariners home game this weekend. UW homecoming football. Countless youth sporting events. I guess we’ll all just have to suck it up for 3 months every summer.

  4. I would really appreciate an air quality monitor somewhere near Snoqualmie pass. There's a large gap between North Bend and Cle Elum. It's such a major recreation area, I think many people would find it useful.

  5. Given wildfire smoke's correlation with increased rates of heart attacks and strokes in a population, I'd be curious what a look at "excess deaths" -- a measure that's helped expose the full toll of COVID -- during the duration of this event (and one week following) would reveal. Given that we just ran an experiment to subject a population of 4 million to significant smoke for 6 weeks and counting, I'm going to guess it would yield a death toll number higher than anyone's expecting.

    Where would one start with inquiries to begin such an investigation -- WA State Dept of Health presumably?

    1. Yes, we do expect to see increased risk of death from smoke. However, epi research takes time, so we won’t know the impact right away from the last few weeks of smoke. Most of this comes from academic research studies. WA DOH will provide input or the health related data we collect, such as RHINO.


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