The state Department of Ecology has listed the air quality over Seattle and much of Western Washington as unhealthy, and it looks like the haze won't be clearing out anytime soon.
The haze from Canada’s nearly two dozen active wildfires is hanging around Washington state, doing its thing: acting like a blanket between the Earth and the sun, keeping it a bit cooler during the day and a bit warmer during the night.
But it’s also worsening our air quality to unhealthy levels.
“The smoke has a two-fold effect (on the weather),” said Dustin Guy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Seattle. “It holds the daytime temperature down like a cloud and holds the overnight lows up.”
Thursday’s high hit a record 94 for the date at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, or a few degrees less than was expected, thanks to the smoke. The previous record for Aug. 3 was 90 degrees, set in 1988.
Wednesday’s overnight low was 68 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which also set a record as the highest overnight low for the date, previously set at 63 degrees.
Guy said the haze is expected to remain over Western Washington through the weekend and possibly into next week.
Guy said that daytime temperatures are expected to come down slightly, but not dramatically, over the next few days.
“It looks like it will be around 90 degrees on Friday and 85 to 90 degrees through the weekend,” he said.
“We will get a little onshore flow from the West as we get into Saturday, but it will be fairly weak and the haze will be with us for a while,” Guy said. “Today and tomorrow will be very smoky, with 3 to 5 miles of visibility.”
Guy said the smoke was affecting flights in and out of Sea-Tac Airport.
The state Department of Ecology has listed the air quality over Seattle, Tacoma and other parts of Western Washington as unhealthy.
Dr. Rick Bowles, a family doctor with Pacific Medical Center in Seattle, advised people with concerns over air quality to stay inside if possible during the hazy days, work out in a gym instead of outside, and to keep needed medications at hand.
“It’s been really horrible for people with asthma and emphysema,” he said. People have also been experiencing throat and eye irritation, he said.
For dealing with the heat, Bowles suggested staying hydrated, avoiding over-exertion and dressing in loose, light-colored clothing.
He says keep water with you and sip it all day rather than trying to guzzle it in a few sittings. Keeping hydrated reduces the amount of smoke that can travel deep into your lungs.
Bowles also warned that heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be “very serious and can be exceedingly dangerous,” especially to infants, young children and older adults.
If a heat-related illness is suspected, get the affected person to lie down and try to lower their core temperature by getting fluids into them and placing cool, wet rags on their body, Bowles said.
So stay mindful, take precautions and don’t look to the skies for immediate relief.
“We are going to get an onshore push of cool air, but in the current situation it’s not going to be a drastic cool down,” said Guy, the meteorologist. “So the good news is it will cool down, but it’s not going to be a blast of cooler air that happens overnight.”