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Air quality suffers as smoke from wildfires moves into the area – Air quality alert issued

A haze of wildfire smoke is visible across eastern Ferndale (September 8, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — Air monitoring stations were reporting air quality within the “GOOD” range. But by early afternoon, things began to change as the wind direction shifted.

After noon today the wind direction in the Ferndale area switched from north-northeast to northwest and, as indicated on the graphic below, air quality as reported from the Northwest Clean Air Agency’s air monitoring station on Loomis Road in Custer jumped from “GOOD” past “MODERATE” and into the “UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS” zone.

Air monitoring station on Loomis Road in Custer data display as of 3:40pm on September 8, 2020. Source: Northwest Clean Air Agency

This morning, Washington Department of Ecology officials via the Washington Smoke Information blog said of yesterday’s unseasonably hot and windy weather across the state, “It was a historically tragic day of significant fire growth that lead to multiple evacuations, homes and businesses lost, dust storms, traffic accidents, roads closed, and thick smoky air across large parts of the state. Fires in Central WA made large runs, traveling many miles, with more land burned than what we normally see in an entire year.”

NWS forecasters, in coordination with the Northwest Clean Air Agency, issued an air quality alert for Whatcom, Island and Skagit Counties today. It will be in effect through midnight tonight. The air quality worsened due to easterly winds bringing wildfire smoke into portions of Western Washington.

These smoky conditions are expected to persist but gradually improve later in the afternoon and evening today.National Weather Service air quality alert statement – September 8, 2020

Washington Department of Ecology officials say when air quality is reported in the UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS range more people than average may have breathing problems or have worsened symptoms of existing asthma or lung disease. Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes, infants, children, adults older than 65, pregnant women, or who have had a stroke. These people are advised to limit time spent outdoors.

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