Friday, July 19, 2024

Haze and Heat Continue East of the Cascades

Fires remain active in the state with 5 large fires currently being reported. The Pioneer and Cougar Creek fires remain active and 2 new fires started on Wednesday as a result of lightning. The Easy fire located within the Okanogan-Wenatchee NF was listed at 150 acres and Swawilla I (Colville Agency, BIA) is listed at 600 acres on the Colville Reservation. The Shoofly fire, also located on the Okanogan-Wenatchee NF, is last reported at 104 acres, and no new information has been received. 


Photo: Smoke rises above the Easy Fire on July 18, 2024 in the Methow Valley in north central Washington. Source: USFS 

Smoke rising above the Easy Fire on July 18, 2024. Photo via the USFS on 


A ridge of high pressure will bring extreme heat east of the Cascades this weekend, especially on Sunday when temperatures are likely to break some daily records. Under that dome of heat, expect stagnant air and light winds across the region. This weather pattern should allow some wildfire smoke and haze to build up east of the Cascades Saturday afternoon through Sunday. It’s likely that most of eastern WA will be seeing MODERATE or UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS by Saturday night which should continue into Sunday before some improvement is possible early next week. While all of eastern WA may see some impacts, communities near larger incidents remain focus areas for the greatest air quality impacts. This includes Chelan, Twisp, and Winthrop near the Pioneer Fire as well as Clarkston and Asotin near the Cougar Creek Fire in southeast WA. 

                                                 Heat risk across eastern Washington on Sunday, July 21.  

In Western Washington, air quality is likely to remain GOOD to MODERATE over the weekend across the lowlands. There could be some wildfire smoke/haze from larger Oregon fires passing through at upper levels of the atmosphere on Sunday. So, skies might look a bit less blue than normal but it’s unlikely to affect surface air quality. That being said, those folks seeking out recreation activities in higher elevations of the Olympics and Cascades could have some air quality impacts on Sunday similar to those described for the eastern half of the state.  

For more information on protecting your health during an extreme heat event, visit this earlier post from the WA DOH, ‘Take Extra Care When It’s Hot and Smoky’.