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Smoky air lingers, but showers are on the way

How to keep safe in the smoky haze

Dr. Andrew Parker, from the Bellingham Asthma, Allergy & Immunology Clinic, gives some tips on staying healthy while Whatcom County is covered in smoky haze from forest fires in Eastern Washington and Montana.
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Dr. Andrew Parker, from the Bellingham Asthma, Allergy & Immunology Clinic, gives some tips on staying healthy while Whatcom County is covered in smoky haze from forest fires in Eastern Washington and Montana.

Air quality in parts of Whatcom County worsened overnight Tuesday – smoke from wildfires in Eastern Washington and Montana continues to plague the region, as Bellingham set a record for most days without a wetting rain.

“Unhealthy” levels were recorded at 4 a.m. Wednesday in the Columbia Valley, which includes Maple Falls, according to the Northwest Clean Air Agency.

In Bellingham, air remained “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which includes children, older people, and those who suffer respiratory problem.

By early afternoon Wednesday, air quality had diminished from “good” to “moderate” in the Lynden/Custer area, the air agency said on its website.

maple falls air quality
This graph shows the worsening air quality for Maple Falls, Washington from September 3-6, 2017, due to wildfires burning in central and eastern Washington. Washington Department of Ecology Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service extended its air quality alert for Western Washington through noon Thursday.

“The central Puget Sound region and the mountains will be the most impacted by the smoke,” the weather service said in a statement.

Areas with elevation of 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet would be affected most, the statement said.

Smoky skies are expected to clear by Thursday as temperatures are expected to drop to the low 70s and clouds will bring a 30 percent chance of showers.

Wednesday marked a record 82 days in Bellingham without a wetting rain, defined by meteorologists as more than one-tenth of an inch. The last time more than a tenth of an inch of rain fell in Bellingham was June 16, when .11 inch was measured at Bellingham International Airport.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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