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Can You Smell it? Smoke From Eastern Washington Fires Comes West

Click "Add" on the top map to put a marker where you notice the smoke.

The air around the Puget Sound region had a different smell Thursday as smoke from wildland fires in Central and Eastern Washington moved westward.

A satellite loop from the National Weather Service in Seattle shows the smoke from the fires. Those with respiratory issues should watch the amount of time they stay outside.

The NWS has issued a Red Flag Warning for most of Western Washington until 8 p.m. Thursday. The Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds (north to northeast 8 to 14 miles per hour with gusts up to 20), low relative humidity (15-20 percent) and warm temperatures (80-85 degrees) will create explosive fire growth potential.

From the website, the Red Flag Warning is due to:

A THERMAL TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON WILL SHIFT EAST OVER THE CASCADES THIS EVENING THEN INTO EASTERN WASHINGTON FRIDAY. THIS PATTERN WILL RESULT IN LOCALLY BREEZY EAST WINDS ACROSS THE WEST SLOPES OF THE CASCADES INTO THE IMMEDIATE FOOTHILL AREAS AND THE RIDGES OF THE EASTERN OLYMPICS. THE WIND WILL THEN EASE TODAY AS THE THERMAL TROUGH MOVES OVERHEAD. HOWEVER THIS WILL BRING UNSTABLE HIGH HAINES CONDITIONS TO MOST OF WESTERN WASHINGTON WITH A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE AREA HAVING MINIMUM RH VALUES BELOW 25 PERCENT THIS AFTERNOON. THE WESTERN OLYMPICS AND THE COASTAL AREAS HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT OF THE WARNING DUE TO THE AMOUNT OF RAIN RECEIVED SUNDAY NIGHT.

The NWS asks that you avoid tossing any burning materials out of vehicles, avoid any outdoor burning, tie up any loose chains involved with towing operations on roadways to avoid sparks, avoid driving over any grassy areas where hot undersides of vehicles can spark the dry vegetation, and obviously--no fireworks.

Have you noticed different air quality in Sammamish-Issaquah today? Let us know in the comments.

Jeanne Gustafson September 14, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Here's an update on air quality in our area today and tomorrow; sensitive people should watch out today, and conditions will start improving later this afternoon: Forecast for Cascade Foothills of East King-Pierce Counties, WA Today and Tomorrow's Forecast Friday, Sep 14: 102 AQI Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Particle Pollution (2.5 microns) Saturday, Sep 15: 38 AQI Good Ozone Extended Forecast Sunday, Sep 16: 38 AQI Good Ozone Monday, Sep 17: 38 AQI Good Ozone For September 12-17: Smoke from growing wildfires in Eastern Washington is migrating across the Cascades today. Trajectories show the smoke coming across the Cascades in King County and moving south into Pierce County. Air quality could reach levels UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS nearer the Cascades. Smoke is expected to be more dilute elsewhere in Puget Sound reaching MODERATE levels. Winds are expected to shift to onshore flow midday Friday to return GOOD air quality to Puget Sound. We will keep this forecast updated as events develop. Erik Saganic, Agency Forecaster

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