The expected push of heavy smoke from West Coast wildfires arrived across the Seattle region late Thursday night as air sensors tipped from “moderate” to “unhealthy” readings across the area.
The city woke up to a grey, fog-like layer and predictions that the smoke will last through the weekend and possibly into Monday.
CHS reported here on the forecasts calling for air flows to carry the smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California into Western Washington.
State officials say it will get worse before it gets better. “Saturday will be worse for most areas, with few clean air getaways possible. ‘Clean air’ will become a relative term for most of this weekend,” they write in a Thursday update to the state’s Washington Smoke Information blog.
Officials recommend limiting outdoor activities while the smoke remains and keeping doors and windows closed. Also know that your COVID-19 masks won’t help with the smoke. The EPA has some tips on other ways to improve your air quality at home but if you haven’t already purchased an air filter system, there isn’t much help. If you’re feeling crafty, this DIY filter might be the way to go. Others are recommending draping a lightly damp towel over the back of your fan as a simple but only slightly effective DIY filter. Be careful mixing water, cloth, and electricity.
City and county officials including Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine will hold a morning press conference to discuss “preparations for forecasts of unhealthy to hazardous air quality caused by wildfires occurring during the crisis of COVID-19” including resources for people living homeless.
UPDATE 2:00 PM: The county and city will open a “clean air shelter” for the weekend in SoDo:
The SoDo site is located at 1045 6th Ave. S, and will operate 24 hours each day. The facility will open at 3 p.m. today, and will remain open until Monday morning. The facility is a County-leased facility, and staffing will be coordinated by the City of Seattle through partners at the Salvation Army. The facility has capacity to shelter approximately 80 people. The Navigation Team will be conducting outreach today to refer individuals to this shelter, and is partnering with ride sharing services to transport people to the shelter. King County Metro will assist with transportation as necessary. The shelter will provide face coverings to staff and guests at the emergency shelter, and nursing stations and no-touch hand washing stations are available throughout the facility. The Seattle Human Services Department will continue exploring additional options for youth and family shelters.
The latest satellite imagery tells the story — smoke blanketing the West Coast. State officials say things should start getting better around Seattle by the end of the weekend:
Smoke is expected to continue its path across the state, impacting Eastern Washington later today. Overall, air quality is expected to slowly start getting better, from West to East, on Sunday.
Fortunately, the forecast for air quality around Seattle has somewhat improved with conditions predicted to reach “moderate” levels here on Saturday.
— Danny Ngan (@dannyngan) September 12, 2020
— Meili Cady (@MeiliKIROFM) September 12, 2020
UPDATE 9/12/2020 11:15 AM: Any hoped for clearing was not to be. Seattle remains enveloped in a heavy covering of smoke Saturday. Many businesses have announced they will not open today and authorities are encouraging people to remain inside and to avoid outdoor exposure as air quality levels remain in the unhealthy to very unhealthy range..
Meanwhile, to help you keep track of changing conditions, here are some useful links:
- Washington Smoke Information
- Washington Air Monitoring Network and AirNow for current conditions
- WAMN Smoke Forecast