Just when we thought the haze was finally gone, the smoke is back in Western Washington thanks to wildfires in the central part of the state and Oregon. On top of the smoke, ash is falling from the sky. Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency last week across Washington due to high temperatures, dry conditions, high fire danger, and existing wildfires.
Easterly winds blew smoke from the Jolly Mountain Fire near Cle Elum and the Norse Peak Fire near the Chinook Pass into the Seattle area.
According to maps from the United States Forest Service, air quality in the Seattle area is currently listed as moderate. These maps, however, only "measure fine particles, not larger particles like ash," the Washington Smoke Blog notes.
As a result, air quality conditions are expected to degrade throughout the day as tiny particles from the fires floating in the air begin falling lower, Camille St. Onge, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Ecology's air quality program, told The Stranger.
"[Ash] is heavy and it drops to the ground, it doesn't stay aloft and float into the air monitors," which can lead to healthier air quality reports. However, "air quality is expected to drop to unhealthy" conditions by the end of the day, she said.
While Washington still has "huge swaths of smoke" covering the state, St. Onge suggests people stay indoors and to switch their air conditioners to recirculate air within their homes. Smoke is expected to clear up by Thursday, she said.