It's a difference you can see in the sky and all over the map. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency shows “green” or good air quality in much of Western Washington after a few days of unhealthy air.
While there really has not been a big push of new smoke from British Columbia, there also has not been a push of any other air mass. The pressure gradient (what controls the wind) has been non-existent the past few days making the air more stagnant.
“But wait, if the air quality is better, why is the sky still smoky?” Good question. While we still have plenty of smoke around, most of it has lifted into the middle and upper levels of our atmosphere. A marine push at the surface is pulling in cleaner air from the ocean giving us a literal breath of fresh air.
At Alki in West Seattle, some beachgoers say they could not only see but feel a difference.
“We would have the fan going on at night and the windows open, and in the morning I felt like I had a headache and a lump in my throat and just felt my nose was stuffy and my eyes were scratchy,” Lea Hoffman, of Burien, said.
She says she is breathing a little easier today.
“It feels a little better. I didn't wake up this morning with a headache. I felt a little more clear in my lungs.”
This came after onshore winds pushed some smoke from Canadian wildfires out of the area. With it, another warning was lifted: the burn ban.
“Now that the burn ban's been lifted, we might get some firewood, and this bonfire might go down tonight,” said Kerry James, who was grilling burgers with a propane grill to adhere to the ban rules.
He would have preferred charcoal, but parks department workers did not remove signs until Saturday evening.
No matter, James says. “No burn ban is going to stop us from doing what we do – sweet 16 today.”
The lift happened just in time for his daughter Makila’s 16th birthday, but her family already skipped the firewood.
“I was pretty bummed because I wanted a bonfire for smores, but it’s all good,” Makila said.
Until we get a push of “new” air aloft, the smoky sky will continue to be with us. Expect more of the hazy sunshine with reddish sunrises and sunsets for at least a couple more days.
The region is looking at a more progressive weather pattern later this week which should push the wildfire smoke east, and allow us to see more blue in our sky.