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Wildfire smoke from afar lingers in Whatcom County

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Northwest Clean Air Agency issued an  Air Quality Alert through the National Weather Service Seattle office yesterday, Thursday, August 12th, warning of smoke impacts for Skagit, Island, Whatcom, Jefferson and Clallam Counties through Saturday.

Wildfire smoke has been entering Whatcom County from British Columbia and eastern Washington wildfires since early Thursday.

The Air Quality Alert warns to expect periods of air quality in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range and areas in northern Whatcom County could experience periods of air quality in the Unhealthy range.

As of 9am, today, August 13th, air quality monitoring stations in Whatcom County were reporting the following measures.

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Station locationMeasureAir quality range
Custer-Loomis Trail Rd59Moderate
Bellingham-Pacific St152Unhealthy
Maple Falls-Azure Wy251Very Unhealthy

Andrew Wineke, Washington Department of Ecology communications manager, said yesterday, “The good news is that this is likely to be a short-lived exposure. A cold front arriving Sunday should blow all of this smoke out, and air quality should begin improving Saturday even before the full front arrives.”

In addition to the low air quality, some in Whatcom County woke to discover ash particles had fallen overnight.

Ash particles visible on a car in Ferndale (August 13, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Ash particles visible on a car in Ferndale (August 13, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News

Compounding the low air quality situation, high temperatures across Whatcom County were unseasonably high yesterday and are expected to continue to be today through Saturday. Residential air conditioning is not common throughout western Washington so opening windows for cross ventilation using the outside air is necessary to prevent excessive interior temperatures.

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