A predicted onshore push of wet weather failed to materialize Monday leaving Seattle with a forecast for dangerous smoke lasting through the week with no clear end to the poor air quality.
A federal air quality alert in place through Monday morning was expected to be extended: “System offshore weakening today,” the National Weather Service tweeted. “Lesser chances for showers and lighter winds = little smoke improvement.” The service said it wouldn’t bother to post its latest smoke predictions as conditions are even more terrible than the calculations and the model is “underestimating current smoke in the region.”
The bad news follows a weekend of terrible air quality in Seattle after a “super massive” plume of smoke from wildfires in California and Oregon pushed into and settled over the area. That followed the start of yet another Seattle smoke season earlier in the week fueled by smoke from wildfires right here in Washington state.
The situation remain perilous on the West Coast as years and decades of climate change have created extreme conditions ripe for natural and human-caused disasters.
Meanwhile, the smoke has cooled things down with the thick blanket of dangerous air blocking enough sunlight to keep Seattle temperatures in the low to mid 60s.
Under current conditions like we are seeing in Seattle, officials recommend everybody to avoid outdoor exposure:
Air quality will be Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, and Hazardous across most of Western Washington today due to abundant smoke near the surface. Very Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality means everyone should stay indoors. Avoid all strenuous activity. Close windows and doors if it’s not too hot, set your AC to recirculate, and use HEPA air filter if possible. People with heart or lung disease, or those who have had a stroke, should consult their health care provider about leaving the area and wearing a properly-fitted respiratory mask if they must go outdoors. Follow burn bans and evacuation orders.
- Washington Smoke Information
- Washington Air Monitoring Network and AirNow for current conditions
- WAMN Smoke Forecast
Many businesses have announced temporary closures while thousands of workers are already “working from home” under COVID-19 restrictions. If you are heading out to run an errand, call ahead or check social media.
Avoiding the use of motor vehicles and machinery like gas-powered leaf blowers that might add to the gross air is also recommended.
Shopping online for air filtering equipment or masks capable of handling the smoke — your COVID mask won’t cut it — is probably too late.
Services like light rail and Metro continue to run at their current COVID-19 restricted levels but the city closed all parks, boat ramps, beaches, and playfields over the weekend. The closures have been extended through at least Monday.
An emergency city and county-run “clean air shelter” remains open 24 hours a day in SoDo at 1045 6th Ave. S.
UPDATE 9/15/2020 10:40 AM: Occasional showers have pushed into the area but conditions generally remain unhealthy despite the few patches of blue sky reported around the Seattle area. Forecasts show unhealthy air conditions are likely to stick around with the next chance at major clearing coming at the end of the week:
Here's the latest smoke forecast map for Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite the rain, not a lot of improvement – air quality will stay in the unhealthy range in W. WA and very unhealthy in E. WA. Big improvements will have to wait for Friday. Full forecast – https://t.co/ABcz0jetPa pic.twitter.com/xkfpEl4RUB
— WA Department of Ecology 😷 (@EcologyWA) September 15, 2020
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