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After longest stretch of unhealthy air we’ve seen in recent smoke seasons, Seattle forecast calls for Saturday relief


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The “Donut” sculpture at Volunteer Park last night. Through the thick smoke, you can barely make out the Space Needle!

A post shared by Jeff Green-Compass Washington (@jeffgreenseattle) on

Though the “super massive” smoke plume that covered the Pacific Northwest withstood the last bout of weather and kept Seattle socked in, forecasters say cleaner air is finally on the way after a run of unhealthy skies unlike anything we’ve seen in recent smoke seasons.

The state’s Washington Smoke Blog says the Seattle region should see significant clearing beginning early Saturday:

Encouraging reductions at Olympic Peninsula monitors today and smaller improvements since yesterday in the Puget Sound lowlands. But strong winds off the Pacific are MIA so we have take what the lighter, shifty winds with a little rain (minions!) dish out. These minions are bringing disorganized, mixed results. Some smoke from Oregon fires are now being transported to western WA due to a wind shift, and even though a lot of that smoke is still aloft, it delays the already slow scrubbing process. Expecting Good to Moderate air in much of western WA by Saturday.

In the meantime, Seattle’s air quality measures have improved to “unhealthy” levels Thursday with hoped for start of clearing Friday bringing further improvement.

“Smoke will continue to linger across the region today, however some slight improvement could be seen as this next system traverses the region,” the National Weather Service says.

The unhealthy air continues to force closures and has kept people even more stuck inside than usual during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

This state analysis shows that the run of smoke-choked skies across Washington was the worst we’ve seen in recent smoke seasons:

Seattle’s 2020 run of smoke-filed skies began after the Labor Day holiday as plumes from wildfires in Washington, California, and Oregon covered the region.

While 2017 and 2018 also brought shorter runs of smoky days, Seattle skipped smoke season in 2019. Hopefully, the run is done in 2020. But a hotter, drier West might mean you’ll want to order your air filters — or air tickets for a wildfire-free destination — now.

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