Friday, June 30, 2023

Statewide smoke forecast for the weekend and beyond

While there are a few small fires in Central Washington, air quality across Washington State is GOOD (we're thinking of our friends in the midwest and on the east coast that are currently dealing with poor air quality). However, a building high pressure system will result in hot and dry temperatures through the weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for portions of Central Washington on Saturday.

Please keep in mind that fireworks not only contribute to smoke but also are responsible for starting new fires. Fires can start and spread much more easily in hot and dry conditions. Please exercise extreme caution if igniting fireworks. If recreating, check local fire restrictions and consider if a campfire is necessary. 

Based on the hot and dry weather, some areas may observe Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups air quality intermittently through the weekend and holiday. It's also likely that local smoke impacts from firework displays and usage will linger into the morning of July 5th. 

We're also keeping an eye on the wildfires burning in Alberta and British Columbia--shifting conditions to winds from the north could lead to smoke impacts in Washington State next week. At this time it's uncertain how much of that transported smoke will reach the surface and how much will stay above us in the atmosphere. A reminder that the latest air quality conditions and 5 day smoke forecast are shown in the map at the top of this page, and we'll update the blog as needed.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Minor Smoke Impacts Today; Clearing for Weekend

Smoke from British Columbia is filtering southward into Washington

The 1.2 million acre Donnie Creek Fire in northeast British Columbia is primarily responsible for the smoke impacts we are seeing this morning across eastern Washington. The smoke is being driven southward by the low pressure system that brought strong westerly winds to Washington earlier this week, and is currently departing the state to the northeast. Due to the origin location of the smoke and the current prevailing wind pattern, smoke is expected to remain east of the Cascade crest in Washington. 

Gusty westerly winds return Friday, clearing smoke

In the wake of the low pressure system, Washington will experience a much calmer day of weather for Thursday, with weaker winds and slightly sunnier skies. The pattern will turn cloudier and windier again by midday Friday as another low pressure system moves toward the Pacific coast from the west. Strong westerly winds will again develop for Friday and are likely to continue through the weekend. These winds will clear out the current smoke through the night Thursday, and we should see much improved AQI's across the state for Friday and the weekend. 

There were several grass fires in south and central Washington that ignited on Tuesday and Wednesday under the dry and very windy conditions, and fire danger will again be elevated for Friday and Saturday. The smoke from these grass fires did not cause any air quality issues due to the strong winds and excellent vertical mixing quickly lifting the smoke above ground level and dispersing it in the wind. Fire danger for Friday and Saturday will not be as high as it was on Tuesday, but any new fire starts in fine, grassy fuels will be capable of quick spread, though their smoke impacts will be minimal. 

This week is Smoke Ready Week in Washington! Learn more about how wildfire smoke affects your health and steps you can take to reduce your exposure here: Smoke Ready WA

Matthew Dehr, Wildfire Meteorologist 
Washington DNR 

Monday, June 12, 2023

June 12-16 is #SmokeReady Week

It appears summer has arrived early in the Pacific Northwest so now is the ideal time to prepare for wildfire smoke season. 

Wildfire smoke not only affects your outdoor plans, but it can make it hard to breathe, and cause or worsen existing health problems.

Every year federal, state, and local agencies and Tribes across the region get #SmokeReady to bring you the most current information on how wildfire smoke may impact your summer plans and health through this blog. 

Read more about wildfire prevention, where to find burn ban information, how to monitor air quality, and get smoke forecasts on the Washington Dept. of Ecology’s website or read their blog available in English and Spanish:

And then take some time to review the Washington Dept. of Health’s guidance on how to protect yourself and your family’s health from wildfire smoke.

Each day this week has a different #SmokeReady theme:
Monday: What's in smoke?
Tuesday: Stay informed about air quality
Wednesday: Smoke and your health
Thursday: Strategies to minimize smoke exposure
Friday: Preventing smoke

Let's get #SmokeReadyTogether and have a safe and enjoyable summer!