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Seattle's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and More | Seattle, Washington | KING5.com

Wind, coupled with rain, will help clear smoky Puget Sound skies this weekend

Rain, unless it's heavy, tends to just push smoke particles around instead of washing them away. Wind is what really helps clear smoke out of the skies.

EVERETT, Wash. — Friday brought a breath of fresh air to western Washington in the form of rain showers. The skies are slowly returning to being filled with clouds instead of smoke.

It's a welcome change from the past week, which Phil Swartzendruber of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency jokingly called, "a pollution hurricane."

The week-long duration of the pollution around Puget Sound is the longest in recorded history. The past week brought the worst air quality for our region in 30 to 40 years.

At the pollution's peak, the Seattle area had some of the worst air quality in the world, according to one index.

Smog shrouded downtown Seattle like a noxious wool blanket as wildfire smoke from California and Oregon sat in the region for days.

Air quality plummeted into the "very unhealthy" range forcing health officials to ask everyone to stay indoors.

"We had a stagnant pattern," Swartzendruber explained. "A system set up in just the right position where we were kind of in the doldrums. The low level winds just stagnated. There was nothing to push the smoke out."

Those doldrums started to dissipate Friday as rain moved in. But it isn't so much the rain that will clear the air. Swartzendruber said wind is what really cleans out skies.

Rain, unless it's heavy, tends to just push smoke particles around instead of washing them away.

"I explain it this way," said Swartzendruber. "It's like when you have a bit of eggshell in your egg white and you're trying to poke it with your finger and the eggshell just goes bloop around the side. That's pretty much what happens in the air."

Air quality is expected to continue to improve this weekend. The breeze will pick up Saturday afternoon, which should make a big difference, according to KING 5 meteorologists.