SEATTLE — This time last year was crazy for wildfire smoke in western Washington.
Strong easterly winds pushed smoke from numerous complex fires into the Puget Sound region, causing us to breathe unhealthy air for seemingly weeks.
This year? Not so much. There have been wildfires - more than 800 so far this summer. Many of them were sparked by lightning. But very little smoke reaching this side of the Cascades. Why?
First off, it has been a relatively wetter summer, especially for the inland Northwest. The following graphic shows precipitation percent of normal. Notice eastern slopes of the Cascades are well above normal.
Much of this summer we’ve also been in a pattern that has absolutely drenched British Columbia. Much of the wildfire smoke we saw last year came from that area.
This same weather pattern is providing us with onshore flow which gives us fresher, ocean-influenced air. You can see a recent air quality map still has a lot of green on it.
The forecast calls for continuing onshore flow the rest of the week. No major heat waves and possibly even a little rain next week should continue to give us great air quality, and very little smoke, at least in the near term.