Well, yes and no. But mostly no.
With air quality in Western Washington dipping down this week to levels that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, it's natural to wonder where the particulate pollution is coming from. Given the massive fires to our south, some people are asking if that's the source of our air quality problems.
For the record, the California wildfires are indeed exporting some smoke over Western Washington, as can be seen in the satellite image above. However, most of the pollution recorded on our monitors is likely from wood smoke coming from wood stoves and fires right here at home.
Stagnant air is trapping pollutants close to the ground, and this pattern is expected to last through Wednesday. California smoke will also linger around until then, but most of that will remain aloft.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Washington, stagnant air prompted Ecology to place burn bans over much of the region starting last week. Ventilation is predicted to improve temporarily, as snow is expected during Thanksgiving. That is allowing us to let the burn bans expire in Klickitat, Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22.
However, stagnant air will return to North Central Washington for the weekend, forcing us to keep burn bans in place in Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas and Okanogan counties until further notice.
Whatever part of Washington you live in, check for burn bans before you light a fire:
- You can find information on all burn bans across the state at www.waburnbans.net.
- For more information on Ecology's air quality burn bans, visit www.ecology.wa.gov/burnbans.
By Ranil Dhammapala, Air Quality atmospheric scientist