Monday, October 1, 2012

Air Time: Expected winds mean mixed news for smoky areas

Air Quality Program, Air monitoring update

While today (Monday Oct. 1, 2012, started relatively calmly, moderate winds are entering the scene ahead of a cold front later today, both clearing the air and potentially spreading wildfires.

According to Washington Department of Ecology air quality forecaster Ranil Dhammapala, a strong cold front dropping into Eastern Washington this evening will herald a shift to cooler weather through the rest of this week.

“The cat among the pigeons, however, is the risk of a rapid spread of fire along the east slopes of the Cascades due to strong winds and low relative humidity,” Dhammapala said. “Additionally, blowing dust across the Columbia Basin on Tuesday could restrict visibility and cause travel headaches.”

Unfortunately, for those who are still suffering through smoky days and nights, the approaching front appears to carry no precipitation except possibly tonight in the North Cascades and far northeastern parts of the state.

Cashmere and Wenatchee are reporting “very unhealthy” air this morning. Ellensburg and Trout Lake are reporting “unhealthy” air, but are expected to worsen throughout the day. Entiat and Maple Falls are reporting “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

Sites in the western Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley are reporting “moderate” air as are Kennewick, Mesa and Moses Lake. All other sites statewide have relatively clear skies.

Cool air will continue to flow into Eastern Washington from the north on Wednesday but winds should relax. Another frontal system is expected by Thursday, but it too carries little or no precipitation.

Gov. Gregoire also has extended a burn ban in Eastern Washington until midnight Sunday night, Oct. 7. The ban does not apply on tribal lands where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.

Joint blog on wildfire smoke and related information:

Check for air quality monitoring information:

Washington Department of Health smoke information:

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