Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Air Time: Some communities still plagued by wildfire smoke

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

Some communities in Eastern Washington — particularly those in and near the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains — are still experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke.

Here is the morning forecast for Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, along with some helpful hyperlinks:

Air Quality forecast, 8AM Tuesday 18 September 2012
Issued by Ranil Dhammapala , Washington State Department of Ecology

With the exception of communities in the eastern foothills of the Cascades, air quality remained mostly in the “good” category, though a few areas recorded “moderate” air quality. As expected, some daytime clearing helped alleviate smoke levels a little in most areas. There were hardly any clouds over Washington all of Monday, so if you didn't see a sparkling blue sky, it was because sunshine was being filtered through smoke aloft.

A mild, periodic west wind in parts of eastern Washington, including the Cascade foothills, might push a little smoke further east into and north of the Columbia Basin today. So while some areas downwind of the fires might see smoke, this should also mitigate the smoke buildup in areas like Leavenworth, the Methow Valley and possibly Cashmere today and/or tonight.

Weak winds and poor vertical mixing over the next few days will result in little dispersion at night followed by partial daytime clearing for most areas. In addition to wildfire smoke, stagnant conditions also cause a gradual build up of locally and/or regionally generated pollutants. Areas at the eastern foothills of the Cascades will continue to experience impaired air quality over the next several days. Exceptions are northern Okanogan County and Klickitat County. The Clarkston area could see some nighttime smoke from Idaho wildfires.

The National Weather Service has an Air Stagnation Advisory in effect for the eastern foothills of the Cascades and the Lewis-Clark Valley on the Washington-Idaho border: http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=otx&wwa=air%20stagnation%20advisory

A burn ban issued by the Governor's office for all of eastern WA is still in effect: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/news-view.asp?pressRelease=1966&newsType=1

Ecology Air Quality Monitoring Network Map: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/Default.ltr.aspx
(Note: Click on the dots and you can then click on “view more information” to find out the latest hourly values, even if the dot is gray.

Explanation of Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) categories: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/App_AQI/AQI.en-US.pdf

If the Ecology site is not responding, try http://airgraphing.pscleanair.org/.

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