Satellite image shows cloud of smoke hovering over Western Washington.
Smoke from wildfires burning northeast of Whistler, B.C., has blanketed the Puget Sound region with haze.
“(The fires) basically spewed a tremendous amount of smoke up into the atmosphere, which migrated over the southern half of Vancouver Island and the western portion of Washington,” said Doug McDonnal, a forecast meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
The smoke is expected to stay for several days because winds aren’t strong and the fires will continue to burn, he said.
“I think we’ll have this smoke in our atmosphere for a while. It will probably gradually decrease, but it will probably take a while for that to happen,” McDonnal said.
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The smoke is having a slight affect on air quality in the Seattle area, but it’s not cause for concern yet, said Sara Harrold, an air-quality forecaster for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
“A lot of what people are seeing right now is smoke that’s up higher and hasn’t come down to the ground,” Harrold said, adding that measures for particulate matter at ground level are much lower than in winter when people burn wood for heat.
The Clean Air Agency rates air quality now as “good.” Harrold said there would need to be more than three times as much smoke at lower levels to downgrade the air-quality rating.
Air quality could worsen later this week.
On Thursday, the wind shift and blow from the north, Harrold said. “It could bring down more smoke … we could see more ground-level particulate matter.”
Air quality levels north of Seattle fared worse. According to Washington’s air monitoring network, Mount Vernon — about 60 miles north — had “moderate” air quality at noon Monday. Two stations near the border with Canada reported air quality “unhealthy” for sensitive groups.