LOCAL NEWS

Why Puget Sound likely won’t be seeing wildfire smoke this week

Jul 13, 2021, 2:48 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2021, 6:12 am
Wildfires, smoke...
Varden/Cedar/Delancy fires near Mazama, WA on July 12, 2021.

Wildfires burning in Southeast Washington, the Methow Valley, and in the Yakima area are making the smoke moderately strong in those regions this week, but Western Washington looks likely to escape the unhealthy air for now.

The Washington State Department of Ecology issued an air quality warning to Asotin, Garfield, and Whitman counties, noting that the air quality could get up to levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups.

But if counties west of the mountains get any smoke, it will not be from our own state’s fires.

How to prepare for wildfire smoke during record-setting hot summer

“We are going to be seeing some smoke from British Columbia drifting in over the border to the north-central part of the Cascades,” said Ranil Dhammapala, an atmospheric scientist at the Washington State Department of Ecology. “There is the possibility that a little bit of that might get to the North Cascades area, across the Cascades to the far eastern parts of Western Washington — Whatcom and Skagit counties, maybe the Cascade foothills there.”

He added that even for those hilly, northeast Puget Sound regions that may see some British Columbian smoke, the air quality impact shouldn’t be too noticeable. The smoke is also unlikely to make its way as far south and west as Seattle.

“For the Puget Sound lowlands, you shouldn’t see too much smoke,” Dhammapala said. “Or if there is smoke, it’ll probably remain elevated. It shouldn’t bother us, beyond giving us some pretty sunsets to look at.”

The reason that Western Washington may get some effects of British Columbia’s fires but not our own state’s fires is all to do with wind. Northerly breezes can bring that smoke down across the border.

“We don’t have any major fires west of the Cascades at this point, so you need a strong easterly wind to bring that smoke over here,” Dhammapala said. “And we’re not going to get those easterly winds right now.”

Still, if the hot, dry conditions continue, it’s likely we’ll see more fires throughout the summer. Dhammapala said it is a smart idea to start preparing for a smoke event now so we’re ready if another week like last September’s haze comes upon us. One way to do this is to set up an air filtration system in your home.

“If nothing else is possible, then at least set aside one room as a so-called ‘clean room,’ where you have a good form of air filtration,” Dhammapala said. “This can be as simple as a box fan with a couple of MERV 13 filters with some bungee cords.”

Stock up on N95 masks for going outside in smoky conditions; if you can’t get one of those, KN94 and KN95 masks will also work well against smoke. Ideally, you would not be using these masks much at all, as it is advised to stay inside as much as possible and avoid doing sports or other exerting activities in the smoke.

To plan your trips outdoors and avoid places where the air quality is forecasted to be worse, keep an eye on the Department of Ecology’s air quality map.

Local News

homeless camp...
Andrew Scheinthal, KIRO 7 News

Seattle business attempts to clear homeless camp, backtracks after advocates step in

A Seattle business is facing heat from homeless advocacy groups after they attempted to clear out an encampment off of Lake City Way.
10 hours ago
COVID, hospitals...
Nick Bowman

‘Tough few weeks ahead’ as state’s hospitals continue to struggle with flood of COVID patients

While Washington's COVID crisis has begun to stabilize in recent weeks, health officials warn that the state's hospitals are not quite out of the woods yet. 
1 day ago
Eatonville COVID outbreak...
MyNorthwest Staff

Eatonville school goes back to virtual learning over COVID outbreak

Eatonville Middle School sent students home on Friday, and will be temporarily moving back to virtual learning until at least mid-October. 
1 day ago
Amazon Bothell...
Dalton Day

Permits indicate Amazon is behind planned new warehouse in Bothell, despite denial from county

Plans for a 105,000-square-foot warehouse in Bothell named as a “fulfillment center" suggest Amazon is behind the project.
1 day ago
Employment Security, audit reports, unemployment tax, unemployment suspect...
Nick Bowman

Former state unemployment worker arrested, charged for alleged role in payment scheme

A former ESD employee was arrested and charged on Friday, for allegedly defrauding the state out of thousands in unemployment payments.
1 day ago
monoclonal antibody treatment...
Nicole Jennings

Washington hospitals lacking in monoclonal antibody treatment

Hospitals throughout Washington are desperately in need of more monoclonal antibody treatment — but at the moment, it’s in short supply. Monoclonal antibody treatment is given to certain high-risk COVID patients through IV or injection as soon as possible after a diagnosis to prevent severe COVID symptoms. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “monoclonal […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Why Puget Sound likely won’t be seeing wildfire smoke this week