WeatherWatcher: Air Quality Alert, Stage 1 Burn Ban, Excessive Heat Warning

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Smoky sunset at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park on August 11, 2014.
Photo by Carl Dinse.

  • Forecast
  • Air quality alert
  • Excessive Heat Warning
  • Stage 1 burn ban
Forecast: Never in my time have I ever read a forecast from the National Weather Service that called for smoke, or areas of smoke. That is what we are dealing with among a whole list of other issues caused by our heat wave weather pattern this week.

In general we are looking at otherwise clear skies through at least next Wednesday. Smoke is in the forecast through at least Thursday afternoon.

High temperatures are not going to be as hot as originally forecasted earlier this week, mostly due to the smoke reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground. For Thursday, I'd be slightly surprised if we broke the 90°F mark in Shoreline. We are looking at highs in the upper 80's for the most part for our warmest day. Thursday night - Friday we are cooling down a little bit and the onshore flow will start to clear out this smoke problem we've been having.

Weekend and early next week we are resuming near seasonal temperatures with highs in the upper 70's to low 80's and lows in the mid to upper 50's. Clear skies continue, as far as models indicate.

The origin of our smoky weather is related to our heatwave. A thermal trough developed south of Seattle as forecasted. The low pressure generated winds from the north, cutting off the flow of Pacific ocean air and bringing us the heat we were expecting. British Columbia has dozens of wildfires in the mountain forests right now, producing large plumes of smoke. With that northern wind came along all that smoke. 

Air Quality Alert: An air quality alert has been issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology and is in effect through Friday. Smoke from wildfires is expected to remain in the area through Friday, producing moderate to unhealthy air conditions. It is advised to limit outdoor activity especially for children, elderly and people with respiratory problems. Most locations today at times have been hazardous enough to be considered unhealthy for all.

Washington Department of Ecology has a blog set up documenting and talking about the smoke problems located here.

Excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect until 9pm Friday evening. 

Stage 1 Burn Ban has been issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. All outdoor burning is prohibited until air quality improves. The burn ban is effective August 2nd, 4pm PDT and is in effect until further notice. This ban is in addition to the existing fire safety burn bans. Puget Sound Clean Air also states the air pollution levels have become unhealthy for sensitive groups.

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