Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Air Time: Smoke returning after day of respite

Air Quality Program, air monitoring updates

Here is today’s (Sept. 26, 2012) conditions update and weather forecast for Eastern Washington …

Wenatchee and Cashmere enjoyed relatively clean air for about half a day before smoke from the area wildfires returned Tuesday evening, according to the Washington Department of Ecology. Smoke is also lingering elsewhere in Eastern Washington.

This morning, Cashmere is recording hazardous air quality levels, while Wenatchee crept into the unhealthy range. Air quality in Entiat, Pateros and Trout Lake, near Mount Adams, is unhealthy for sensitive groups. It is of moderate concern in Chelan and Ellensburg.

Other monitors along the east slopes of the Cascades are recording good air. The Columbia Basin has a mixture of air quality conditions. In some areas, the air is troublesome for children and those with respiratory ailments or the elderly. In other areas, air quality is good to moderate, with many sites showing little fluctuation since Tuesday.

The forecast predicting strong nighttime inversions remains on track, with above normal daytime temperatures and light winds. The greatest smoke accumulations will be near the fires while other areas in Eastern Washington will experience lingering smoke.

Light east winds will return Thursday and it may bring some smoke from Idaho wildfires to the Palouse, Clarkston and Spokane. In general, expect some smoke impacts in the morning and nighttime, with some afternoon clearing in most of Eastern Washington.

On Friday night, a weakening front will bring some clouds and winds, helping to disperse smoke somewhat. Stagnant conditions could return over the weekend due to a strong ridge of high pressure. There is the possibility that east winds will bring smoke from Idaho fires to the far eastern parts of the state, and some Washington wildfire smoke to the western part of the state.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has extended a burn ban on all outdoor burning in eastern Washington through midnight Sunday. You can find news and information about smoke and wildfires from a variety of state, local and federal agencies on a new blog,

Also, the National Weather Service has issued an Air Quality Alert for all of Eastern Washington.

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