Smoke that blew Friday into Puget Sound will get worse Saturday before clearing out by Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
A northeasterly wind is not only blowing smoke into the region from fires in the North Cascades, but is also stoking blazes locally. That was the weather service’s exact concern when it issued a red flag fire warning in Western Washington for Friday and Saturday.
Lewis County issued level three evacuations — which mean residents should leave immediately — for Goat Rock, High Valley and Timberline near Packwood, south of Mount Rainier, where the Goat Rocks fire grew explosively Friday. Level two evacuations were also issued in other areas near the fire, including Packwood.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said Friday afternoon it would be closing both directions of Highway 12 between Skate Creek Road in Packwood and the top of White Pass, as well as the full length of Highway 123 between Highway 12 and Highway 410.
The smoke that kept Friday temperatures from reaching an earlier predicted high near 90 degrees could also dampen the heat Saturday, according to weather service meteorologist Brent Bower. But even accounting for smoke, it’s going to be warm, he said, with a forecast for 89 in Seattle.
By Friday afternoon, air quality had been downgraded to moderate in Seattle and much of the Puget Sound lowlands. Along the Cascades, its foothills and into Snohomish County, the air quality was marked as unhealthy or unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to Puget Sound Clean Air.
Seattle and King County Fire Marshals, meanwhile, implemented a stage two burn ban Friday, prohibiting all outdoor recreational fires countywide.
Those who violate the temporary ban can be charged with a misdemeanor if they fail to comply when confronted, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
The wind turns on Sunday and will begin clearing out the smoke and dropping temperatures into the 60s along the coast. The onshore flow is expected to reach Seattle and the Cascades by Monday, dropping temperatures into the 70s and significantly lowering fire activity risk, said Bower.
Staff reporter Daisy Zavala Magaña contributed to this report.