WeatherWatcher: Stage 1 burn ban issued, air quality alert, smoke to start leaving Thursday

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Where's the Puget Sound and the Olympics? Smoke filled skies at Richmond Beach.
Photo by Frank Kleyn

Monday August 20, 2018 at 5pm the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued a Stage 1 burn ban. This is typically a burn ban issued during winter months for air quality. For the same reason they have issued one today, which will be in effect until conditions improve. This burn ban is in addition to the current fire safety burn bans already in effect.

During the Stage 1 burn ban:
  • No charcoal barbecues or similar solid fuel devices
  • No campfires or bonfires
  • No fire pits, chimineas, fire bowls, or similar free-standing devices
  • No fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves or uncertified inserts
  • No agricultural fires
It is okay to use natural gas or propane grills, stoves, or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

An air quality alert continues for the entire region issued by multiple agencies including the National Weather Service in Seattle. Unhealthy air has become common across the area due to wildfire smoke, the majority from Vancouver Island and the coastal mountains of British Columbia. Some of the smoke is also from a few large wildfires in the Cascade mountains and one smaller fire in the Olympic National Forest.

The air quality is in the unhealthy, very unhealthy and hazardous ranges for the region for all of the population, not just sensitive groups. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency advises people to stay inside at all times, run air purifiers or have some form of filtered or closed recirculated air. You should not run a vacuum unless it has a HEPA (High-efficiency particulate absorber) filter in it.

Forecast: So when's all this smoke going to blow away? Most recent models indicate that for Seattle south, it will start clearing out Wednesday afternoon and be almost totally clear by Thursday morning at the surface. Seattle north (Shoreline, Lake Forest Park) shows some clearing but we really don't get to clear up until Thursday night and Friday morning.

Models are showing more smoke moving back in though Friday afternoon and evening. The smoke forecast models are experimental, and anything past 48 hours is getting to be a bit of a stretch for accuracy.

As for weather beyond the smoke, forecasts point to seasonal temperatures and smoke filtered sunny skies through next weekend. Highs topping out in the mid-upper 70's and lows in the 50's. Our clearest day is likely going to be Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Here are the temperature graphs for the month so far. Would you believe it if I told you we have been running at seasonal temperatures since August 11th? It's our longest stretch at average or below average temperatures since June 14th.

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