Smoke from the Canadian wildfires continues to impact Central and Eastern Washington, with monitors observing Air Quality Index values corresponding to Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Group levels.
Friday, May 19, 2023
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Wildfire season is starting a bit earlier than expected due to smoke from large fires in central Alberta. While the Canadian fires have been burning for a couple weeks, shifting weather patterns to northeasterly winds brought the smoke to Washington State. This morning's GOES-WEST satellite image shows the plume of smoke across the state. Luckily, that plume of smoke is mostly staying above us--it's too high in the atmosphere to mix down to the surface.
An Air Quality Alert has been called for the following counties and expires Saturday, May 20 at 10am: Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, and Whitman. PM2.5 levels may reach Unhealthy for Sensitive Group levels in these counties. While today will be hazy in these areas, relief from the smoke will come later in the day with the arrival of southwest winds. If conditions improve, the Air Quality Alerts will be lifted before Saturday.
As far as the rest of the state, the smoke is high enough in the atmosphere and very unlikely to mix down to the surface and impact the air we breathe. Take a look at this image of the smoke aloft from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's ceilometer in Marysville, where we can see the smoke (dark grey bands) present at around 3-5 km above ground:
Smoke in May caught us all by surprise, but it's a good reminder to be prepared for the upcoming wildfire smoke season. We'll update this blog as conditions change, and be sure to visit the Health Information tab on this page for tips on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.