The warm and dry start to October continues
Another sunny and warm weekend is in store for Washington as a stubborn high pressure system remains firmly in place over the region. By Monday afternoon, a dry cold front will drop out of Canada and sweep across Washington, bringing gusty winds to most areas of the state by Monday around sunset. These winds will be strongest in the Juan de Fuca Strait and in the Cascade Valleys. This will provide good ventilation conditions and should clear smoke out for Monday night and Tuesday morning.
ECMFW forecast sustained winds for Monday evening. These winds will temporarily clear smoke from the Puget Sound and Cascade valleys.
After the brief respite early in the week, a similar pattern to this week develops by Tuesday afternoon and continues through the foreseeable future. Smoke conditions will return and air quality conditions in the 'unhealthy' category are likely for the Wenatchee Valley. Even with no rain, smoke production on active fires will begin to slowly decrease as longer nights and cooler days set in. We are in the midst of the driest and warmest October since at least 1987, so this pattern is decidedly not normal.
Active management continues on all ongoing fires in Washington, and firefighters have made great progress in containing the amount of timber the fires have available to burn. Unfortunately, it takes widespread wetting rain to truly extinguish these fires. Just 1 inch of rain falling on the area of the Bolt Creek fire is equivalent to dumping 353 million gallons of water, the scale that mother nature works on is truly astounding.
Thanks Matthew. It's no fun being the bearer of bad news, so I appreciate the effort you and everyone else put in to maintaining this site and publishing the information.ReplyDelete
It would be very helpful if you’d talk about whether people can safely be outside during 50-100 AQU with kn95 masks, or if that’s only “safer.”ReplyDelete
It is difficult to say what is "safe" or "not safe", as every individual responds differently to smoke and air pollution exposure. Some of our health experts can likely expand on this, but I would say anything you can do to mitigate your exposure will be safer, but we cannot say it is "safe" for everyone. The best thing is to talk to your personal doctor who is familiar with your health issues and to pay attention to how you are feeling.Delete
Research is showing that lower and lower levels of smoke can be bad for your health. Wearing a properly fitted respirator can reduce your exposure to smoke when outside. NIOSH approved N95 respirators are the best masks for wildfire smoke. KN95 masks or other masks that are approved in other countries may not provide the same protection as those that are NIOSH-approved because they are not regulated in the United States. If using a KN95 mask, look for ones that meet requirements similar to NIOSH-approved respirators. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/international-respirator-purchase.htmlDelete
In the top right of this page, under “Frequently Asked Questions,” the link to WA Dept of Health FAQs is broken.ReplyDelete
Thanks for letting us know! We will get that fixed. Here is our page: www.doh.wa.gov/smokefromfiresDelete
Thanks, now updated.Delete
Why does the doh wildfire smoke page focus almost entirely on covid? If I was a coach for youth sports, consulting this page to see whether I should cancel practice, I would come away with the sense that smoke is only dangerous when combined with covid, which is decidedly not the case, particularly for children.Delete
I think this is the correct FAQ link: https://doh.wa.gov/community-and-environment/air-quality/smoke-fires. Are KN95 masks as effective as N95 masks for smoke?ReplyDelete
Yes, it is! You can also use www.doh.wa.gov/smokefromfires. NIOSH approved N95 respirators are the best masks for wildfire smoke. KN95 masks or other masks that are approved in other countries may not provide the same protection as those that are NIOSH-approved because they are not regulated in the United States. If using a KN95 mask, look for ones that meet requirements similar to NIOSH-approved respirators. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/international-respirator-purchase.htmlDelete
I'd like to learn more about how "active management" and "great progress" are defined given that we're now approaching the 1-month anniversary of the Bolt Creek Fire, and it's still essentially a daily significant health hazard for millions of people. Is our wildfire fighting strategy really "wait for rain"?ReplyDelete
There are many aspects to this topic, but typically there are not enough resources, manpower, and equipment to "put out" large wildfires in forested areas that have no road or utility access. Management of a wildfire often refers to cutting lines to create fuel breaks and back burning so that the fire can not advance past certain lines. When those efforts are effective, fire-growth is minimal but burning still occurs within the perimeter. Fire-suppression over the past 100 years has increased our wildfire risk today because many forested areas are "overdue" for their natural cycle. The most effective way to limit summer wildfires is with prescribed fire in the off-season. Keep in mind that the main goal of wildfire suppression programs is to protect humans and their property from fire (not smoke). Here are some articles you may find useful: https://www.iawfonline.org/article/2020-01-path-strategic-wildland-fire-management-planning/ https://www.washingtonnature.org/land/fire https://idahofirewise.org/fire-ecology-and-management/fire-management-strategies-and-tactics/ https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fire/wildland-firefighting-tactics.htmDelete
Please elaborate on "foreseeable future."ReplyDelete
After the clearing wind/rain event tonight, there is likely smoky conditions expected again in Western WA from Wednesday Oct 12 thru Sunday Oct 16. Currently the weather forecast shows strong westerly winds and rain starting on Monday Oct 17th, but keep in mind that weather forecasts aren't very confident that many days out.Delete