Smoke from Sourdough fire hangs over Seattle
Aug 14, 2023, 8:08 AM | Updated: 9:11 am
(Photo from WSDOT)
Smoke is clogging up the air in the Puget Sound region as the nearby Sourdough forest fire continues to burn.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the smoke was being blown into the area over the weekend because of the north winds, and while the winds have shifted, they said that “air quality may be depleted at times into Monday.”
Lots of reports, including from us at the office, of noticeable smoke and haze across Puget Sound. This is due to the #SourdoughFire and north winds. Some improvement may occur through the afternoon with increasing winds. However, air quality may be depleted at times into Monday. pic.twitter.com/WBvRehYE3o
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) August 13, 2023
Meteorologist Maddie Kristell with NWS in Seattle said that all of the smoke is partly due to high pressure and wind.
“The high-pressure systems, like the one we have now, heat up the temperature and keep winds light, which keeps smoke around close to the ground,” Kristell said.
Kristell said cool coastal winds should bring down temps and push out the remaining smoke by Thursday or Friday.
The air quality index (AQI) reached a “moderate” ranking of 57 when smoke from the nearby Sourdough forest fire descended onto Western Washington Sunday evening.
The Environmental Protection Agency said that at this point, the smoke is really only a concern for unusually sensitive individuals who suffer from respiratory conditions.
In addition to the smoke, an Excessive Heat Warning is in effect, with temperatures in the 90s and even close to 100 in some spots through Wednesday night.
Officials urge outdoor workers to be careful as there’s a high risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
As of Sunday night, the Sourdough fire is estimated to be at 2,586 acres and is 5% contained, according to Inciweb. The fire is burning near Diablo in the Ross Lake National Recreation area.
More than 400 firefighters are working to battle the blaze, which broke out late last month.
“All fires are unpredictable, and we cannot anticipate the path it will take in the future,” Project Delivery and Generation Officer Andrew Strong told KIRO 7. “Rest assured, City Light and the Northwest Team 10 fire crews are doing their best to protect and preserve critical infrastructure and equipment from damage.”
Due to the fire, the Diablo Dam Access Road and the road into the town of Diablo were closed on Friday, and State Route 20, also called North Cascades Highway, was closed between milepost 120 to milepost 156, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
Spokesperson Margie Ferrucci says the fire threatens Diablo Dam, which provides 30-40% of Seattle’s electricity. More than a dozen Seattle City Light employees and their families have been evacuated from a property near the Ross Lake Dam.
NWS said that the fire danger will be elevated this week due to the ongoing drought conditions, high temperatures, low relative humidity, and light offshore winds.