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Washington's Smoke Season Has Been Eventful, Though Not Extraordinary

Screenshot of Washington Smoke Blog

The rain and cooler temperatures of the last two weeks are bringing an end to Washington’s wildfire season and lessening the chance of region-wide smoke events.
 
Ranil Dhammapala, an atmospheric scientist at the Washington Department of Ecology and one of the contributors to the Washington Smoke Blog, says, during the peak of wildfire season, smoke generally bypassed western Washington, but made a significant impact in localized parts of eastern Washington.“Parts of Okanogan County and parts of Yakima County were hit pretty bad. But those weren’t record-breaking as such, in terms of acres burned or even the air quality, but that’s not to say they had it easy," he said.
 
On some days, the Methow Valley had some of the worst air in the nation.
 
“Their smoke season started earlier this year than in any other year. I think they first started seeing smoke around the middle of July, whereas, normally, they don’t see those levels of smoke until well into August," Dhammapala said.
 
He believes Washington will continue to see active wildfire and smoke seasons in future years, but not many extreme seasons.  
 
“I would be very hesitant to say that kind of smoke blanketing the whole state at the same time for a whole week, I wouldn’t even venture a guess to say that that kind of thing would become the norm. But, unfortunately, as there are more fires, there’s going to be more smoke. That’s going to have to go somewhere, but the somewhere is always determined by the meteorology of the day," he said.
 
Tuesday brought good air quality to the Methow. The Yakima area still had some pockets in the moderate range. Dhammapala attributes that to minor flareups associated with a long-smoldering fire.