Why is it Smoky in Seattle?

October 4, 2023

The smoky air and stifling heat are creating unpleasant conditions for many across the region. High temperatures this weekend and a plume of smoke from wildfires in Canada’s British Columbia will combine to make the conditions even more unpleasant.

Fortunately, air quality is not expected to reach unhealthy levels for most people. However, the smoke can still be problematic for some, especially those with respiratory or heart disease, as well as children and elderly adults. The smoky air can also trigger other symptoms such as coughing, irritated eyes and nose, or difficulty breathing.

A westerly wind pattern has been keeping most wildfire smoke to the east, but that will shift overnight tonight and funnel smoke from fires in Western Washington down to the Puget Sound area. An air quality alert remains in place through Monday morning and will cover Clallam, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, and Snohomish counties. Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups smoke is expected over most of the area, with the northern counties being impacted first.

If you are sensitive to the smoky air, please limit outdoor activity and consider using an air filter in your home. The city of Seattle has piloted cleaner-air shelters at several community centers, where residents can seek relief from the smoke. The Washington Department of Health has more detailed tips and a list of recommended masks. To track the air quality in your area, see the PSCAA’s live map.


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