After some experts believed relief from the smoke that has lingered along the West Coast was on the way, it appears Lewis County residents and Washingtonians will have to wait a little longer for clear skies.
According to Southwest Clean Air Agency Executive Director Uri Papish, the combination of westerly blowing winds, rainfall and a low-pressure front coming in from the coast would have sent the smoke toward the Pacific Ocean.
However, the weather system that was supposed to clear up the skies was a no-show.
The Washington state Department of Ecology was also disappointed with the weather patterns they had expected.
“That’s not how it was supposed to go,” The Department of Ecology tweeted Monday morning. “The system we were counting on to bring us some relief has … not. The smoke is still mostly here, and light southerly winds are bringing more from OR at least through Tuesday.”
According to the Department of Ecology’s Washington Smoke Information blog, the “cleanest” air in the state right now is still falling under the “unhealthy” category.
One commenter on the blog asked Department of Ecology officials “So when is it realistically going to start clearing out?”
Dr. Ranil Dhammapala, an atmospheric scientist for the Department of Ecology, replied “Hard to answer that, Joe. Nothing major before the end of the work week, it seems.”
Papish said it appears another low-pressure front is coming on Thursday and air quality should improve by Thursday evening or Friday morning in the Lewis County area.
As of Monday morning, the Southwest Clean Air Agency scored the air quality in Chehalis at 275, which is classified as “very unhealthy” and is about 26 points shy of cracking the “hazardous” threshold.
Because of the smoke, Lewis County Public Health and Social Services released some quick tips for understanding wildfire smoke and how to stay healthy.
They warn that people with preexisting diseases, particularly COVID-19 or lung and heart diseases, people with respiratory infections, children and infants, adults over 65 years old and pregnant women are “sensitive groups” and are more at risk.
Their recommendations to protect yourself from the smoke are; first, stay informed about the air quality; second, limit your exposure by avoiding strenuous outdoor activities and staying indoors; third, keep the air indoors clean by closing windows and fourth, paying attention to symptoms and seeking medical help if necessary.
Smoke also caused Timberland Regional Library locations to halt their curbside pickup services at 20 locations, including all of the Lewis County locations, over the weekend, and caused cancelations of several weekend events.
To stay up to date on air quality locally and throughout Washington, you can find the Environmental Protection Agency’s real-time air quality values at airnow.gov or stay in the loop with the Department of Ecology’s Washington Smoke Information blog at wasmoke.blogspot.com.