Wildfire Smoke

A bird sits on a wire as the sun sets through wildfire smoke last month in Chehalis.

Air quality in Lewis County and Washington is anticipated to improve over the weekend after going a week of mostly hovering in the “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” ranges, according to the Southwest Clean Air Agency.

“We have seen significant improvement with the wind and the rain that is coming in from the coast and it is gradually going to improve over the weekend,” said Uri Papish, executive director of the SCAA.

The SCAA anticipates air quality to be in the “moderate” to “good” range by Sunday, if not sooner.

As of 10 a.m. on Friday, the SCAA scored the air quality in Chehalis at 147, which falls under the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category, a stark improvement from Monday morning when the air quality was reaching 275, considered “very unhealthy.”

Papish noted that several weather models that his agency uses are showing that air quality could be clear by the end of Friday and others that showed it would be clear by Sunday, but all of the models are showing rainfall and winds are expected over the weekend, which Papish said will help combat the lingering smoke.

Rain is effective in clearing air quality because it has a scrubbing effect on the particles floating in the air, and when combined with wind and some fresh air — like they anticipate this weekend — it can stir up the smoke.

“We’ve had pretty stagnant low-wind conditions where smoke has been sitting at ground level, so when you have wind, rain and air mixing it stirs up the smoke and helps clear it out,” said Papish

However, the amount of smoke that lingers beyond the weekend could depend on conditions of the fires around the state and West Coast and wind direction.

“We’re going to get continued improvement throughout the day, throughout the weekend, but some smoke may linger depending on what happens with the fires and the wind direction,” Papish said.

(1) comment

HeavyHemi

Actually for several periods we were over 350, which is well into the HAZARDOUS range. I was surprised to see my mail carrier driving around all day in this muck with ZERO protection. As we know, they drive windows down. This needs to be addressed for the future.

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