AQ FORECASTING



Below are links to some of the tools professional air quality forecasters use to help predict air quality. Each product has its own strengths, weaknesses and quirks. Users are advised that interpreting results from the models can be difficult. Proceed with caution!


Washington State University (WSU)
On left menu, click “Species” then “PM2.5” for forecasts of fine particles

United States Forest Service (USFS)
Find "Northwest:" Choose MAP for PNW 4km or PNW 1.33km

High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) Smoke
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA)
See “1Hr Average Surface Smoke” 

Canada's Wildfire Smoke Prediction System (FireWork)
FireWork daily model runs 
The 48-hour maps are the most informative

BlueSky Canada
Wildfire smoke Forecast

69 comments:

  1. Is the smoke just as bad at higher elevations? I have a 7-day permit to hike & camp in the Enchantments (near Leavenworth) but am hoping the smoke is not as bad at 6,000 - 7,000 feet.

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    1. I was up in the enchantments last Thursday (8/9) thru saturday (8/11) and the air quality up there was good, but you could see the haze at later elevations. Not much haze by Aasgard or in the core, more towards the snow lake TH side

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    2. Take a look at the most recent MODIS image from this morning. Hopefully this helps. https://go.nasa.gov/2vJ9B4Y

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  2. We have a family trip booked to the Chelan area in the middle of next week and have small children. Any idea of predicted air quality later next week?

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    1. Expecting pretty poor air there on account of very close proximity to some large fires, and also smoke from BC that will drift down through about Wednesday. Partial clearing possible Thursday, but forecasts that far out are uncertain. Nearby fires wont help matters. If you do go, please pay attention to some of the health resources on this blog, to safeguard your family's health

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    2. We also have a trip booked in Chelan Aug 23rd - 28th. Young kids. Crossing our fingers. Any update on if it will clear by Thursday? Thank you!

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    3. Chelan is very close to the Cougar Creek and Crescent Mountain fires. So, while we do expect some clearing late this week, you should be prepared for smoky conditions.

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    4. So great to hear real time updates -- we're another family booked for Chelan Aug 23-26, how we looking?

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    5. Chelan isn't going to be very clean due to the very close proximity to large fires.

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  3. smoke is very thick in soap lake, WA today is it from the Canada fire?

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  4. Looking to get away from the terrible air in the Seattle area this coming week. Is there anywhere within a 3 hour drive of Seattle that would have cleaner air Tues and Wed, the 21st and 22nd? The coast, Portland...?

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    1. Hi Jenn, outrunning it might take more like a 3 hour flight toward the southeast. WA coast and Portland arent going to be fantastic. Some clearing is possible in western WA by Thursday but hunkering down and controlling your exposure are your only options until then. See the health advice on http://wasmoke.blogspot.com/p/federal.html.

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  5. Is there an actual forecast of when the smoke might actually clear up?

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    1. Its uncertain. Best info we have- subject to change closer to the date- suggests that western WA should start to ease late Wednesday into Thursday. Some relief east of the mountains Thursday & Friday but areas closer to fires will still not clear out completely.

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  6. We are located just north of Spokane WA. I have read there may be some partial smoke clearing by Fri. In your estimation, will there be enough clearing to enjoy the lakes, or are we too close to the fires to make much of a difference?

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    1. Forecasting out that far in advance is highly uncertain. There is still potential for smoke in the area. Thursday will bring strong westerly winds which should clear out a lot of the residual lingering smoke, but at the same time Spokane could be in the path of fresh smoke plumes from central Washington. I would expect some smoke, but not as bad as it has been recently.

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  7. We were planning on backpacking this Thursday- Sunday. Where will be the best area to go?
    We are leaving from Seattle area.

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    1. I think you will want to stay to the west. We are hopeful that all this Canadian smoke will be on its way out of Western Washington by then. Winds will be from the west. Locations to the southwest of Seattle should be good. I would consider areas like LaPush along the coast to be "the best" area to go in terms of air quality.

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  8. We were supposed to go backpacking this Thursday-Sunday leaving from the Seattle area. Any suggestions on where we could go to get the best smoke free area?

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    1. I was backpacking on the coast last week, not a whiff of smoke and the temps were lovely.

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  9. I'm planning on heading to the Gorge Ampitheater area for a trip August 30-Sep2. Any idea if the air quality is projected to improve by then? Thanks a lot.

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    1. Forecasting that far out is not really possible. Yes, the current lingering Canadian smoke will have cleared out by then and air quality will have improved in the Gorge. However, be on the lookout for sustained light winds from the north in the central Washington forecast leading up to your event. Those types of conditions could bring in another widespread smoke event from Canadian wildfires.

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  10. Will Mt St Helens air be healthy enough for a summit climb on Wednesday...?

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    1. It might be possible to get up above the smoke layer at the summit, but there will still be widespread smoke across the state. In addition to the current lingering smoke, there is thick smoke off the coast that will likely blow back across the state on Wednesday when the westerly winds pick up in the afternoon. Tough to say what altitude that will be at. If you reschedule for Thursday, though, you should have good air.

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  11. I know this isn't your are of expertise, but any chance of Vancouver Island clearing up next week?

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    1. There are several wildfires burning in northwest Vancouver Island. Forecasts a week in advance are highly uncertain. However, the southeast side of the island has a good chance of being clear next week.

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  12. How’s Mt. Rainer looking? Better because of the elevation? We were hoping to go camping either Mount rainier or Olympic National Park tomorrow. I’m thinking maybe we push back until Thursday in the hopes that the air is better then. Is one of hose areas thought to be safer? Would Ranier be ok tomorrow since it’s higher? Thanks!!

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    1. Jen & Rob, the Olympics will be the first to clear out by Wednesday. Rainier might hold on another day, and depending on where you are, there might be some influence from the Miriam fire near White Pass. Webcam at Paradise and satellite images suggest Mt Rainier is OK for now but when air flow reverses and cleans things out, smoke hanging offshore will swing by Mt Rainier on its way out.

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  13. How is the Oroville WA/Osoyoos lake area looking Aug 23-29. We're planning to go with small children. Any idea if the air quality will improve?

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    1. There are several wildfires around that area in both Washington and B.C.. You should expect smoky conditions. Take a look here for current wildfire locations in the area: https://go.nasa.gov/2N7kuUR

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  14. I would like to go backpacking August 26-30. Any way to predict what part of Washington State or North/Central Idaho might have the best air quality that far in advance? Thanks!

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    1. There could be some rain and/or lightning in Eastern WA and North Idaho on Sunday/Monday. Also northerly winds which could bring down smoke from Canada for a day. But, overall, we are hoping for much better air quailty regionally next week. In general you can expect pretty good air quality in Western WA in the coming week, especially the southwest slopes and coastal area. Central Idaho (e.g. Grangeville region) has been looking pretty good too, with little wildfire activity in that region. Okanogan/Chelan/Ferry counties are not advised due to known wildfires. I suggest you check out https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/?state=53 and stay clear of regions around any large wildfires.

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  15. What is predicted air quality for Friday in the Vantage/George (Sunland) area?

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    1. It should be much better. I think it could be Good to Moderate air quality. But windy!

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  16. Looking at hiking in Goat Rocks Wilderness within the next week is it bad now or will it get worse? Thanks!

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    1. In general we do expect clearing of widespread smoke in the state by Friday morning. Keep in mind the Miriam fire is modest in size but it is within Goat Rocks Wilderness so you could see locally produced smoke there, especially if the expected winds cause more fire growth. See https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6066

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  17. Backpacking up the skyline ridge trail in western Olympic National Park this coming Monday-Friday (27th - 31st)... I know that is too far out to accurately predict what conditions will be like that whole time period. Are there any early projections as to how long the coming flow of clean air may last? At this point, we are just trying to assess what it may be like when we arrive (flying in from Midwest).

    Second: if smokes does roll back in from Canada in the middle of our hike, I presume we will need N95 face masks on hand to wear during our hike back down and out. What else do we need to plan to bring just in case the smoke comes back mid-trip?

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    1. It's possible you could see some intermittent smoke from the Vancouver Island fires at the beginning of your trip, but it looks like good air quality can be expected. The latter part of your trip is uncertain. I think overall it should be nice though. The N100 masks are better if you want to be cautious.

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  18. Are there any air quality monitors for sale which can measure the outside level of pollution?

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    1. Yes, lots. Some better than others. We cannot endorse any brand/ product. Here's a summary of the different products that have been evaluated by a lab specifically set up for this purpose: http://www.aqmd.gov/aq-spec/evaluations/summary

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  19. Yet another Enchantments question. We had planned to be out there Sunday 8/26 to Thursday 8/30. 6 or 7 years of failed lottery entries to finally win this Core Permit. How's it looking? If awful, we'd take an alternate as far as Idaho (Sawtooth Wilderness, perhaps).

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    1. Check trail conditions. Northwest winds expected Sunday- Tuesday & that will most likely bring in plenty of smoke from nearby fires

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  20. Do you prefer one model over the others? The 48-hour Canadian Firework run seems to factor for realistic boundary conditions whereas NOAA and USFS seem to only account for smoke within the CONUS. Does Ecology do any of its own modeling and should we look for a tool to be developed/published sometime in the future?

    Thanks

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    1. No Ecology doesnt have its own model in-house. This year the HRRR and Canada's FireWork models have given reasonably good guidance but which one we end up relying most on changes day by day. Some situations may be better characterized by USFS BlueSky or WSU's Airpact.

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  21. Heading to Cle Elum this weekend for camping... how bad is the smoke looking?

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    1. Please see the above map for current conditions- there is a monitor in Cle Elum and it reads Moderate right now. Not expecting it to deteriorate very much beyond USG this weekend

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  22. Plan to go backpacking this weekend into the Chelan National Forest. Cascade Pass to Stehekin. I would imagine that the entire trip would be pretty smoky due to the close proximity of the Crescent Mountain Fire as well as the Cougar Creek Fire. Any chance that weather patterns, etc. may keep the smoke out of these areas?

    Thanks in advance for any information offered.

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  23. Can you give your best prediction as to what area would be most likely to have the cleanest air early next week? Mt Rainier area, Port Angeles, San Juan Islands, or Ocean Shores? We are hoping to head out on a short family trip. (Monday-Wednesday / Aug 27-29)

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    1. As mentioned to another inquirer: Mt Rainier will probably be OK for most of Mon- Wed if you stick to the western side of the park. We're juggling smoke concerns from fires on Vancouver island (might impact some combo of ONP, PA and San Juans). Northwest winds could bring some smoke from mainland BC into central and eastern WA. N Cascades is iffy. Ocean Shores might just escape smoke from Vancouver Island.

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  24. Planning to go camping in the Olympic National Forest this weekend, August 25th-26th. We are looking at campgrounds along Hwy 101 on the eastern side of the peninsula, There are several just west of the Hood Canal. I know there is the Maple Fire burning nearby what is the predicted air quality for this area over the weekend? Would it be better by going further south to Lake Quinault or over to the Western side of the peninsula? This is a great resource, thanks for your help!

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    1. South Olympics would be my suggestion. Western areas are likely to see some smoke form fires on Vancouver Island, as are areas closer to the strait.

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  25. I know that conditions can change quite a bit in a week and this is likely too far out there to really "know" but we are supposed to do the Bailey Range traverse in the Olympics in a week and aren't sure what the smoke is like at the higher elevations....route finding and air quality concerns. Wondering if we should be working on a "Plan B" for our vacation :) Thank you for having this site....it has been really helpful!!!

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    1. Hi, yes a backup plan which includes Mt Rainier wouldnt be a bad idea. We're expecting intermittent smoke in the Olympics through about Monday. Some rain expected in BC and how the fires respond in the next week is hard to tell, as is the upper level smoke.

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  26. What a great resource! We are planning our family trip starting today for a week and want to do a mix of time at a cabin on Useless Bay in South Whidbey Island and camping on the Olympic Peninsula. Open to campgrounds all over the peninsula. Would really value thoughts on relative smoke in the two areas, where on the peninsula is likely best, and how we would expect this to change through the week. Thanks so much in advance!

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    1. Hard to answer. You'll have to play cat & mouse with the plumes. None of those areas will be entirely smoke free all week. Whidbey is seeing smoke now and will improve a bit tomorrow before getting smokey again. How much smoke remains uncertain. Olympics... coast is clearing now but will see some plumes occasionally hitting the western end between now & Monday, after which it might remain relatively OK there and along the southern boundary. Eastern Olympics probably should be avoided. Port Angeles has been hanging on to smoke and cloud cover hasnt really allowed us to see how far into the mountains it extends.

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  27. We're another family with plans to camp at Lake Chelan State Park (in tents), Aug 28 - 31. We have 3 asthmatics. I know that things had improved a great deal in the last week, however, I now understand there are some nearby wildfires. Will the AQ be heading back to very unsafe levels? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. Yes the area has certainly cleared out from the Hazardous levels a few days ago down to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups right now (and asthmatics are a sensitive group). Here's the recent history of air quality in Chelan: https://tools-c4.airfire.org/monitor-custom/v1/dailyhourlybarplot?outputfiletype=pdf&lookbackdays=10&monitors=530070007_01&
      The area is very close to 3 big fires (see https://maps.nwcg.gov/sa/#/%3F/47.9433/-120.5066/8) and is not going to see Good air this week. Fire activity may have lessened due to cool temperatures this weekend but it will be a while before smoke stops. Not expecting it to improve beyond USG during that period. So if you do go, please take precautions spelled out on the "Smoke and health" tab above.

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  28. Any idea when Spokane area will ever be breathable again?

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    1. Expect gradual improvement through the week, although there will be periods of poor air scattered in there. Dont have a good handle on fire activity (clouds obscuring satellite views) so forecast is quite uncertain & cant be more definitive.

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  29. What do you expect for the Leavenworth area between Wednesday-Saturday of this week?

    Thanks for your servce!

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    1. Unlikely to be completely smoke free but likely much better than the last few weeks. I'd say prepare for conditions ranging from Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. We havent yet gotten a handle on how the fires are faring, and hopefully a break in the clouds tomorrow afternoon will let the satellites achieve that. Forecasts should be a little more certain after that.
      Glad to be of service :)

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  30. How is the Pete Lake/Spectacle Lake region looking for tomorrow and Thursday?

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    1. Probably some periods of Moderate/ USG air on Wed, should be mostly Good by Thursday

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  31. How is the Duckabush river area looking this weekend with regards to the Maple Fire south of the area?

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    1. Mostly northwest/ west winds all weekend, so little chance for the smoke to make it from Maple --> Duckabush. However cant rule out a little stray smoke from Vancoouver Island fires, but unlikely to get worse than Moderate

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    2. Thanks for the quick response!

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