AIR QUALITY NOW

Air Quality Monitoring

This is the map shown on this blog, but full size.

The blog map doesn't display all air quality monitors available in the state. This map does.

Local and national air quality website by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

These monitors are deployed only as needed during major smoke incidents.

Nationwide conditions.  If there is a big smoke incident in Washington, you may find it here

The 5-3-1 Visibility Method

Don't have a monitor in your area? Use this visibility guide to help you decide how the outdoor air quality might impact your health. Learn more about the 5-3-1 visibility method.


Thank you to the New Mexico Department of Health for the use of their infographics.




WAQA & AQI

You may notice small differences in colors shown on the map on this website, and those reported on the Washington's Air Monitoring Network. The map on this website uses the national air quality reporting system called the Air Quality Index (AQI) for calculating the air quality health category. However, the state uses the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) system of calculating air quality. Both use color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate, or unhealthy. The difference is that the state's WAQA is based on lower levels of fine particle pollution than the federal AQI, providing an earlier alert of potential air quality risks. If in doubt as to which better represents public health risk, use the more stringent of the two (i.e. the map showing worse air quality). See the WAQA color guidance, also en Español.

For Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Washington’s air monitoring network follow these steps once you are on the state’s air monitoring page:

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85 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I'm a student at the University of Washington Bothell and I'm doing statistical analysis on the concentration of PM2.5 from 2001 to 2007. I saw that on November 6th, 2007, it was reported that the daily average PM2.5 was 67.2 µg/m3. The second highest recorded PM2.5 in 17 years. So my question is what could have been the cause of this? I'm trying to find data, but it's difficult to pinpoint a specific day. I was wondering if you guys had any resources or any ideas as to why this could have been?

    Thank you

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    1. What location are you concerned about? Please respond to us directly with your questions. Contact details are at https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Contact-us. Questions of this nature submitted anonymously via the wildfire smoke blog will not otherwise get a timely response.

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    2. https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/socal_wildfires_oct07.html

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    3. Hi Anon

      Did you find out the cause of the reported 67.2 µg/m3 from November 6, 2007?

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    4. Was that a day following a big windstorm? Remember a few times in Nov. with large extended power failures where the woodsmoke was terrible.

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  2. was wondering about the aberdeen hoquiam erea of the state? our 2 boys have youth football all week long and not sure if its safe for them for them to be practicing in these cknditions. I am also just getting over phemonia/bronchitus

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  3. There is an air quality monitor in Aberdeen that you can keep an eye on and then refer to this table for recommendations concerning Air Pollution and School Activities. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/334-332.pdf (Also available on the Smoke and Health tab above.)

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  4. I would appreciate it if a monitor could be added in the Skykomish Valley. I live in Index, and the closest air quality monitors that show up on any of these maps are in Darrington, North Bend, Lake Forest Park, Marysville, and Plain. Who decides where to put them? We should have one in either Index, Gold Bar, Sultan or Monroe. Tuesday I could barely make out the outline of Mt. Index, 3 miles away, and could smell the smoke. Today I can't see even Heybrook ridge, 1 mile away, but it looks more like clouds and fog than smoke, so I can't really tell if it's safe to open the windows and cool down the house.

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    1. Hi Warren, what you're seeing now is indeed a mix of smoke & clouds with diminishing amounts of smoke. As explained in the blog post, western WA is experiencing some clearing as marine air floods in, and should enjoy Good air through Saturday at least.
      About the monitor: with finite resources already stretched thin, we have to be smart about when and where we deploy air monitors. In many instances, the nearest monitor provides a sufficiently representative reading of general conditions in the area. Exceptions are if there are large fires nearby, where one community is disproportionately affected by smoke. The Dept of Ecology and US Forest Service have already installed most of the extra monitors we have, in eastern WA communities hit hard by smoke from nearby fires.

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  5. Hi, we are supposed to be camping near Twisp beginning this weekend and the owners of the RV park say the air is fine and smoke only when the wind blows their way. Should we be concerned about the smoke and air near Twisp/Winthrop? RV park doesn't refund camping fees. Thanks!

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    1. Hi, unfortunately the Methow Valley has hardly seen air any cleaner than "Unhealthy" for the last 10 days. Take a look at the satellite picture in yesterday's blog post and also see the air quality data measured in the valley, at https://tools-c4.airfire.org/monitor-custom/v1/dailyhourlybarplot?outputfiletype=pdf&lookbackdays=10&monitors=530470010_01&monitors=530470009_01&

      There are large fires nearby and windflows are usually channeling or draining smoke into the valley very often. This is not expected to change substantially over the next week at least.

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    2. You can buy a air monitor at AirVisual.great app!

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  6. Hi! I was planning on heading to the Teannaway, right outside of Cle Elum this weekend. Is the predicted visibility and air quality worse or better than it is in Seattle right now?

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    1. Hi Tylie, Seattle is on the mend so should have good visibility & air quality by the end of the day today. I'm expecting Cle Elum will also follow suit by tomorrow and remain Good through Saturday. Might get lucky with the first half of Sunday too. But do pay attention to the new air quality monitor which was installed there (data on the clickable map above)

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  7. Is Monday and Tuesday expected to be in the orange or red in the Kent area? I have asthma and copd and am supposed to be traveling that way early next week.

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    1. Your questions about Auburn and Kent: Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) is a distinct possibility in that area Monday & Tuesday. Please see some of the health precautions you could take, explained on this website.

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  8. What level will Auburn be next week?

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  9. How bad the situation on Hause Creek Campground (Highway 12, milepost 150)? Is it possible to camp this weekend?

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    1. A temporary reprieve can be expected from now through Sunday morning, but that will still likely leave you with Moderate air quality due to some light smoke draining from the Miriam fire. Conditions are expected to worsen late in the weekend. Please see the health precautions you can take, explained in this blog.

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  10. Thank you for creating & maintaining this blog! It is so helpful in making decisions about outdoor activities, and in understanding the fire situation.

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  11. Is Bellevue OK today for children's outdoor sports?

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    1. Perhaps. See https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/334-332.pdf for planning kids' outdoor activities during smoke events

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  12. Was wondering what would be the air quality index be around lake Diablo this week? More specifically hidden lake lookout trail. I see a monitor at Darrington fire station which reads moderate. But was curious if the index will be very different in the mountains?

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    1. Swarnav, that area is unlikely to see anything better than Unhealthy air through Wednesday at least. Darrington is now showing Unhealthy air and things could be worse higher up in the mountains, as higher terrain is closer to smoke aloft. Given the amount of smoke drifting over the entire state, you are not going to find isolated areas with Good air until late this week.

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  13. Planning a trip to Olympic Peninsula/National Park next week. What do you predict the smoke and visibility to be like in Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge, Ruby Beach, and Port Townsend next Wednesday through Friday (August 22-24)?

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    1. Hi Jennifer, forecasts that far out are subject to more uncertainty. Unlikely that Wednesday would be all that great, but a gradual improvement toward Moderate or even Good air can be expected in the Olympic Peninsula Turusday- Friday.

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  14. Hi!. Is the Air purifier helps from smoke?

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    1. Vlad, yes but you need to make sure it filters the air well and doesnt produce ozone.

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  15. Hi, Is it dangerous to camp at Lower Lewis Falls this week? We are supposed to leave this morning for our camping trip and plan to be there until Fri am. But I'm worried now that the smoke will be too bad? We have all been excited for this trip for months now...we're all packed and ready to go and now I'm really worried we are making a mistake. What are your thoughts?

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    1. I dont want to be the grinch who ruined your camping trip... but I should warn you that there will be smoke and visibility will be affected. Expect air to be Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in that area. Some moderate winds will both transport smoke from the Miriam fire close to White Pass (and BC smoke!) but wont let it accumulate to very unhealthy levels. So if no one in your party is overly sensitive to smoke, and you've packed some N95 or N100 masks, and you avoid lighting campfires (adds to the smoke pressure; use a propane stove instead) then it should be OK to go. Relief should arrive by Wednesday evening.

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    2. Thank you for your response! I did buy some N95 masks, enough for everyone. And I just made them promise me to wear them if needed, and definitely while the campfire is going tonight. I hope we are making the right decision but we are going to give it a try.

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  16. Is it unsafe for young adults to hike Mt. Si in Northbend today?

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    1. If it can be postponed to Wednesday or later, that would be best. Being physically active while exposed to USG or worse levels of smoke for long hours is going to take its toll even on healthy adults. Fires east of the Cascades are going to be sending smoke that way today.

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  17. Headed to Banks Lake, near Coulee Dam, Aug 24-27, yesterday the weather underground site had the area at hazardous and very unhealthy, today not as bad. Any predictions for this upcoming weekend?? Thanks!!

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    1. Air Quality has been unhealthy to hazardous in that area. Westerly winds will pick up on Thursday and hopefully clear out most of the haze/smoke from BC. However, there will still be impacts from fires in our state for the foreseeable future. Be prepared for unhealthy air, though you might see some intermittent clearing at times due to the winds.

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  18. Where can I go to get out of the smoke in Spokane? I would be driving. Thank you.

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    1. Smoke is covering most of the Pacific Northwest to varying degrees. Hopefully you can find a clean-air shelter that has air filtration and air conditioning. You would have to drive very far to get out of the smoke. See www.airnow.gov for a nationwide map of air quality but keep in mind conditions do change. Air quality in Washington will continue to be bad for the next couple days but Thursday should get better since westerly winds are expected to clear out a lot of the lingering smoke.

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    2. Thank you forsuch a thorough response. I'm trying to hold on. It's tough even with oxygen .

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  19. I'm in Seattle. There's good info on what smoke is doing now, not so good on forecasts. In general, is the smoke not as bad early morning as later in the day? That SEEMS to be the case but I'd like to have a better idea before committing to do something outside in Seattle at 7 am with my friends. (I know you don't know for sure, but your best guess is better than mine.) Thanks.

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    1. Fire are generally more active during the hottest parts of the day. Plume heights are also higher. So, during the day you can get more smoke emitted and transported further distances. The cool/dark hours are when the atmospheric mixing layer collapses, and smoke can subside or drain down valleys and increase concentrations at lower altitudes. When smoke is worst really depends on your proximity to the fire, local terrain, residual smoke, and winds. All that being said, forecasts show it's supposed to be very poor air quality for Seattle area all day tomorrow, regardless of time of day.

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    2. Thanks so much, Farren. Really appreciate it.

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  20. Hi, we are heading out for a three day backpack trip this Tues through Thursday and the smoke is, of course, a large factor as to where we go. Do you have a suggestion as to which may have better air quality: North Cascades NP, Mt. Rainier NP/ Sunrise area, or would it be better to just head to Olympic NP coast? Thanks!

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    1. I would not head towards the North Cascades... you will just be heading towards the smoke. The further south along the Olympic coast you go, the better the air will be in general.

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  21. This may vary well be a silly question but we had plans to head to paradise creek area past Carson on Friday for some river walking. Just wondering what is expected for that area Friday...thank you in advance!

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  22. How do you expect the air quality to be in the Quincy/Crescent Bar area by Friday and Saturday? Thanks!

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    1. I think you should expect some intermittent smoke from the Cougar Creek fire. Though, I don't think it will be terrible. If you can check conditions Thursday morning we will have a better idea of what to expect.

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  23. family is coming from all over US for camping trip to Mt Rainier NP. we can regroup & go to olympic coast if that would be a better bet in terms of smoke/air quality issues. all are healthy adults except for a 72 yr old with asthma recovering from a cold. would greatly appreciate any comments. thanks. very good blog.

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    1. Hi, the Olympic coast 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. Friday- Sunday should be good for Rainier, though. Enjoy your camping trip with family!

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  24. Once the smoke leaves this week, will it be returning next week or the week after that? I am am pulmonary patient and not very mobile, but if this is going to be something that will continue to weeks than it is best that I try to leave. How do I find out?

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    1. What is your location? Not all areas will experience the same smoke events.

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  25. how do you add an app to your laptop to get updates for your area on the smoke from the wildfires

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    1. The apps I've seen for smoke alerts are for cell-phones or tablets that can install "apps". For a home computer, I think the best solution would be to install twitter alerts on your browser and follow the national weather service or a local clean air agency for your area. I think you can also do something similar with facebook.

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  26. We planned to camp in Chelan next mon-thurs - should I cancel my reservations now? We are so bummed, we’ve had this reserved for 9 months!

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    1. Take a look at the current wildfires in the area (marked in red): https://go.nasa.gov/2nZhBdZ There is a lot of wildfire activity in the area, so you should expect smoke. More importantly, if you decide to go you should first look at any evacuation orders in the area. For more information, call the Chelan County Emergency Management at 509-667-6863 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CCSOEM. You should also see the Cougar Creek and Crescent Mountain incident pages here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6053 and here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6093

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  27. Thank you to everyone involved for this SUPERB website! You are doing, as they say, "yeoman's work"--good, hard and valuable work done for the common good.

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  28. Thank you for this helpful blog. We have a 4 day backpacking trip planned to start tomorrow, August 23 through Sunday, August 26 in the Enchantments, trailhead near Leavenworth. Do you predict it being unhealthy to backpack for four days in current conditions? Should we consider changing plans and driving out of the State into a less smoky region and camping there instead? We really don't want to waste our Enchantments permit but are concerned with the smoke, both for health and visibility. Thank you for any thoughts!

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    1. We expect consistent westerly winds which will likely blow the smoke from the Cougar Creek Fire away from that area tomorrow night through Friday morning. However, keep in mind that there is still an Air Quality Alert for Chelan county through the weekend. So, if for some reason the winds shift, you could see smoke. There is some confidence though that that area could be pretty clear for Friday thru Sunday with possible light rain on Sunday.

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    2. I just drove from Seattle to Ellensburg and you could see the Stuart range almost crystal clear. No smoke up there to speak of as of now.

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  29. We plan to camp in North Cascades/Lake Diablo area Friday-Sunday. Do you think the air quality will be fine?

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    1. I think you could see light to moderate smoke but not as bad as lately. Westerly winds should flush most of this haze out. Also, expect some possible rain on Sunday. There are several smaller fires in that region. Try zooming into the area of interest on this map to see what's nearby: https://maps.nwcg.gov/

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  30. Thank you for this blog! We are supposed to leave to Chelan tomorrow for vacation (with young kids). Any update on what to expect. We are coming form Vancouver, BC so not sure it is worse!?

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    1. Vancouver BC should be better by Friday morning. There is a lot of wildfire activity in the Chelan area, so you should expect smoke regardless of the westerly winds expected. Not sure how much of the rain on Sunday will materialize. You could check for any evacuation orders in the area by calling the Chelan County Emergency Management at 509-667-6863 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CCSOEM. You should also see the Cougar Creek and Crescent Mountain incident pages here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6053 and here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6093

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    2. Thank you. I understand the Lake Chelan air quality monitor is down too. Are there any road closures to be aware of? I have tried googling but not finding anything.

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    3. See here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd589904.pdf which is from here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD590644

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  31. Hello. Thank you for this wonderful blog. I haven't found another resource for specific forecasting advice.
    I have plans to go with my daughter to Sequium Fri-Sun, and then to the coast (Quiluete) Sun-Wed. Is it predicted to be clear enough to be safe hiking?

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    1. I think you should be OK. There could be some modest smoke impacts from the Vancouver Island fires but not like we saw the past few days.

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  32. It looks like monitors are down across the state. Any idea on when they will be back up?

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  33. What's happened to all WA air quality information this morning? If there's a problem, POST IT for us. We should understand the weakness of our systems. Thanks.

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  34. Any updates for the Oroville/Osoyoos lake area? We're heading there tomorrow for 5 days. Thanks for all this helpful information.

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    1. Still plenty of wildfires in that region and smoke is visible daily. Plan for Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy air quality. You can monitor the traffic cam for visibility during the day https://www.wsdot.com/traffic/us97border/default.aspx?cam=9022

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  35. Hello. We are hoping to take a family getaway next Monday-Wednesday. We are 2 healthy adults, 2 healthy kids (ages 6 and 8). In hopes of avoiding as much smoke as possible, would you recommend we head toward 1) WA coast (ocean shores), 2) Friday Harbor 3) Olympic Peninsula (Sequim or Port Angeles), 4) Mount Rainier / Crystal Mountain or 5) Somewhere else you would recommend? We cancelled our Chelan trip a few weeks ago, and our Mt. Rainier trip last week, so we are basically just hoping to make it anywhere at this point. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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    1. Sorry about your aborted travel plans. Lets hope the third times a charm! 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. Sorta leaves you with Mt Rainier by elimination. Send us some pictures if you go!

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  36. Hi, wow I can't believe you reply to everyone! Thank you! We have been in Mt baker area and BC, visiting from NYC since the 9th. Basically covered in smoke the whole time. We fly out Monday night and next two nights aren't booked. Sounds like you think Ranier or Olympic is best bet? That really far for us as we're driving from North of Whistler tmw. Anywhere closer that will be safe for hiking? We have an 18 month old and I'm uncomfortable with how much exposure he's had now. Stayed inside last two days.

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    1. We try hard to respond to all requests and yes it's almost a full time job! Sorry your northwest experience had to be such a smoky one. Cant really see another area closer to you that will be smoke free. You might be able to make use of the smoke shadow on the southeast side of Vancouver island and try hiking on Orcas Island in the San Juans on Saturday. Smoke is likely to swing back that way on Sunday though.

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  37. Going to Vancouver next Monday through Friday. Bringing out 2 and 7 year olds. Also might have a chest cold. Should we still go? I don't want to go have the family breathe smoke or cough all week. What's the smile forecast for next week?

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    1. Vancouver Washington should be pretty good in terms of air quality. Though forecasts that far out are uncertain and it's possible you could catch some intermittent smoke from Vancouver Island. Expect intermittent smiles from the kids!

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  38. I just read the home page blog and it states that Kitsap County is moderately smoky at worst, but right now it's the worst I've seen it in weeks. There is literally smoke between our house and outbuildings. The map right above the blog shows a red dot. I'm not sure if it just hasn't been updated yet, or what, but if anyone is making weekend plans, Kitsap County is not where you want to be! Come back in several weeks--it's beautiful.

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  39. Very useful post, great blog, thanks for sharing, looking forward to updating

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