WeatherWatcher: Wildfire Smoke and Heatwave

Monday, September 7, 2020

Smokey sunset at Richmond Beach Salt Water Park
Smoky sunset over Olympics at Richmond Beach August 1, 2010.
Photo by Carl Dinse

We have an unusual late season heatwave that is moving its way into our region this week. This heatwave is actually being caused by an arctic high over the Rocky Mountains.

This has brought strong north winds over eastern Washington and strong northwest winds over western Washington today. The winds in eastern Washington fanned up some pretty large wildfires, all of which were man-made or caused by fallen power lines. These fires have generated enormous plumes of smoke. 

The winds also created a dust storm across the Columbia plateau. 

Visible color satellite image Monday September 7, 2020 at 6:36pm PST.

As the heatwave moves west over western Washington, the north winds have changed to east winds, bringing the smoke plume of the biggest wildfire in eastern Washington over the mountains and into the Puget Sound lowlands. Air quality has already started declining rapidly and is expected to be pretty unhealthy for everyone by Tuesday morning.

Apart from all the smoke, we are expecting clear nights and sunny skies all week and next weekend. 

Lows in the upper 50's to mid 60's and highs in the low to mid 80's, with the warmest day being Thursday possibly reaching up to the lower 90's. Winds are expected to continue to be breezy from the north and northeast. Wind gusts as high as 30 mph are expected at least through Wednesday evening.

Monday's winds reached a maximum gust at the Richmond Beach station of 28 mph. Our high temperature on Monday was 85°F east of 8th Ave NW, and around 78°F near the Puget Sound. 

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