air quality

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.

East Of The Cascades Under Air Quality Alert

Aug 12, 2021
Washington State Department of Ecology.

All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.  

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.

Courtesy of Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz toured two of eastern Washington’s major wildfire sites today [Wednesday], where thousands of acres on Indian reservations have burned. They are two of more than a thousand fires reported this season in Washington, already an all-time record, she says.

Elevated Fire Risk Continues In Inland NW On Tuesday

Jul 20, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for much of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. That’s in effect through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Spokane County’s air quality is listed as moderate this morning and it’s expected to remain there for a few days.

WA Scientist Rolls Out New Longer-Term Smoke Forecast

Jun 8, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington’s state environmental agency has developed a new tool for determining where smoke from wildfires is going to disperse. The goal is to give people who are downwind more time so they can prepare.

Screenshot from Cromwell-Pinehurst meeting

Students in north Idaho on Monday talked about the air quality of their town with kids in southern New Zealand. It’s part of an ongoing dialogue facilitated by faculty at the University of Montana.

Washington State Department of Transportation

UPDATE: Monday, 11:45 am

Spokane County's air quality has improved slightly. The county's clean air agency measures 418 parts per million on a 1-500 scale of particulates, still hazardous, but better than the 36-48 hours.  Nearly all of the smoke monitoring stations are registering very unhealthy or hazardous levels.

While it looked like we might see some improvement by today, the current forecasts call for haze to stick around until Friday. Then, we can expect cloudy skies a chance of rain through the weekend.

Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington’s air is smoky and getting worse. The Department of Ecology today [Thursday] issued a statewide air quality advisory.

Andrew Wineke from Ecology says the culprit is smoke from wildfires in Washington and Oregon that has been sitting offshore.

Is Wildfire Smoke Coming? Be Ready, Just In Case

Aug 19, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air quality around the Northwest is gradually worsening with the increasing number of wildfires burning this week.

Health and air quality officials are urging people to be prepared in case the smoke becomes more prominent.

Second Big Health Issue Looming: Wildfires

May 8, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz has plenty to worry about with managing the local public health response to the coronavirus. But now he has another issue on his radar screen: wildfires.

Lutz is regularly on the phone with Washington Department of Health officials about Covid-related issues. But Thursday afternoon, he was also preparing to talk with them about the upcoming wildfire season.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air in north Idaho’s Silver Valley has gradually improved to the point where it may soon meet federal standards.

“This was a wonderful year for air quality," said Dan Smith, an airshed analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in Kellogg.

Inland Journal, March 15, 2019: Outdoor Burning

Mar 15, 2019
U.S. Forest Service

Friday on the Inland Journal podcast, as temperatures slowly warm back to the seasonal norms, people can start finally to think about spring. The time for outdoor burning is still at least a few weeks away here in our area, but in southern Idaho, regulators expect to allow farmers to torch their fields as early as this week. We’ll talk with Mark Boyle, the head of the Idaho state smoke management program, about field burning.

Spokane Air Improving Slightly, But Still a Problem

Aug 20, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

UPDATED at 12:25 pm:

The Spokane Regional Air Quality Agency says the county's air has improved from "hazardous" to "unhealthy," due to smoke from wildfires around the region.

The agency has declared Monday and Tuesday as "Air Quality Action Days."

You can get more information or sign up for alerts at the agency's website.

Idaho, New Zealand Students Learn About Air Quality

Aug 9, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

What do Kellogg, Idaho and Alexandra, New Zealand have in common? Smoky air.

“Alexandra has had a persistent problem with air quality for decades," said Ian Longley, a scientist at NIWA, which is the New Zealand version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Nineteen time zones to the west, Kellogg has had some of the same issues.

Steve Douglas/Flickr

One of the great geographic blessings of north Idaho’s Silver Valley is also a curse. The high steep hills that surround the valley make it visually stunning. But they also hold in air pollution, especially when colder air is trapped near the surface.

It's an unusually bad wild fire season in the West, and for weeks people across the region have been breathing air thick with smoke.

"There's smoke from Canada, smoke from Idaho, smoke from California and Montana. There's smoke everywhere," says Greg Svelund, a spokesman for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

Inland Journal, August 10, 2017

Aug 10, 2017

This week on Inland Journal...
    ▪    We talk with a Chelan state legislator about regulating marijuana in Washington. With Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparring over the state's pot law enforcement, Republican Representative Cary Condotta says the state is actually doing a good job regulating reefer.
    ▪    We’ll report on a dilemma for liquor retailers in Washington that want to create their own ‘private labels’. Some retailers, such as Costco and Fred Meyer, have been selling their brands, but they’re technically illegal. We’ll look into the situation.
    ▪    We'll learn how new sensors installed on power poles around Spokane are helping researchers learn about air pollution, including wildfire smoke, in the city.
    ▪    And Austin Jenkins from the Northwest News Network will tell us about an upcoming rape trial involving a former top official from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with allegations that the work culture in one part of the agency was toxic for women.

Streetlight Sensors Measure Spokane Air Quality

Aug 10, 2017

For the last several days, you’ve seen with your own eyes the wildfire smoke that is hovering over our region. But other sets of ‘eyes’ have also been ‘seeing’ that smoke and taking samples of it. Among those ‘eyes’ are three sensors that sit on the tops of streetlight poles in Spokane’s University District. Brian Lamb, a professor of atmospheric research at Washington State University, says all of the sensors are showing elevated levels of particulates from the smoke.

But, Lamb says, when the smoke is gone, the sensors show some interesting air quality differences that confirm the phenomenon that we know as microclimates.

The wildfire smoke in Washington state has been extreme for days now, and many are wondering just when the air might clear out. An atmospheric scientist from the Washington Department of Ecology thinks the severe wildfire smoke may start to clear out a bit by Thursday for the western part of the state, but linger longer in the east. According to Ranil Dahmmapala,  “The good news is from the weekend onward, there’s a good chance for a pattern shift, and we might have southwest winds to blow some of the smoke away and keep the British Columbia smoke away for a while.”

A summer filled with wildfires means air conditions in the Northwest are going from bad to worse. Fires from British Columbia and around Washington state have contributed to a smoky week.

Like a dreamy scene, the Yakima Valley is blanketed in thick haze. But the reality is not so serene. Coupled with high temperatures and humidity, the smog is taking its toll on local residents.