Washington

As BC wildfires spread, Puget Sound air quality dips

Air quality is “unhealthy for all” in spots in Central Washington. Getting worse west of Cascades too.
Air quality is “unhealthy for all” in spots in Central Washington. Getting worse west of Cascades too. KIRO-TV

The Washington state Department of Ecology has issued an air-quality alert for Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties as smoke from British Columbia wildfires began moving south Tuesday afternoon.

The smoke cast a grayish color over blue skies, and Washington’s Air Monitoring Network labeled parts of downtown Seattle, Kent and Tacoma as having “moderate” air quality, while parts of northern Washington, such as Lynden, were labeled as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies people who have heart or lung diseases, older adults and children as most likely to be affected by poor air quality and smoke from wildfires.

The Federal Aviation Administration, meanwhile, issued a ground-delay notice for flights arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because of the smoke, and that travelers should expect delays of about 34 minutes, according to The Associated Press.

The Washington Smoke Information blog, which is managed by a group of government agencies and tribes, posted Monday that the smoke might offer a reprieve from this week’s higher-than-normal temperatures.

“Smoke plumes that remain aloft will offer a little relief from the oppressive heat by providing a thin sun shield that lowers temperatures a degree or two,” the blog reads.

“And they will cause pretty sunsets,” it adds.

Eastern winds Wednesday might reduce some of the smoke’s effects, the blog said. It will continue updating throughout the week.

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