Smoke from fires in Northern California is headed our way and could be here by Tuesday night.
But don’t freak out.
It won’t be like before when thick smoke from active fires in Oregon blanketed Puget Sound for more than a week, shutting out the sun and giving us some of the worst air quality in the world.
The smoke, this time, is higher in the atmosphere and being blown north so it should not have much more than a short, slight impact on air quality, if even that, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
“We’re not expecting anything near what we had earlier this month,” said weather service meteorologist Samantha Borth.
The smoke will likely make its way to the Puget Sound area by Tuesday evening, but will probably only stick around for about a day, said NWS meteorologist Mary Butwin.
“We’ll probably be able to see it in the sky, and sunrise and sunset will be colorful,” Butwin said. “But it shouldn’t be at the surface. It won’t affect air quality unless you’re up in the mountains.”
At the beginning of this month, smoke from wildfires in Oregon — eight of which started between Sept. 7 and 10 — burned more than a 1 million acres and sent a massive plume of smoke as big as the state — over the ocean, according to Washington Smoke blog.
“At the Washington Department of Ecology, smoke forecasters watched this plume build with unease,” wrote Andrew Wineke of DOE for the blog, run collaboratively by state, federal and local air quality agencies.
Cooler temperatures the night of Sept. 10 allowed the smoke to settle in at ground level and Western Washington woke on Friday, Sept. 11, to ashen skies, Wineke wrote in a summary of the smoke event.
For most of the next week, every air quality monitor in Washington state recorded levels of particulate pollution above the federal 24-hour standard, according to Wineke.
Some rankings even showed Seattle, and Portland, as having the worst air quality in the world that week.
Borth said the weather service doesn’t expect the smoke to enter the lower atmosphere this time though high altitude hikers and campers could perhaps see some impact.
The smoke is not expected to have much impact on temperatures, forecast to be around 80 degrees Tuesday in areas such as Olympia and the mid to high 70s in Seattle.
Meteorologist Dustin Guy said the chances for viewing the aurora borealis touted earlier this week have disappeared between the coming smoke and the now bright moon.
This week’s warm stretch is courtesy of a strong ridge of high pressure and low-level offshore flow, according to the meteorologist Dana Felton.
Though not record-breaking, the temperatures forecast for this week are well above Seattle’s normal for this time of year. A high of 77 degrees is more typical of the stretch of summer between July 19 and Aug. 16, according to the weather service.
The region has seen temperatures hit 80 degrees in late September and early October in the past, but it’s atypical.