PHOTOS: Why you’re seeing smoke, but not breathing it

(WSB photo)

From the yellowish hazy sunlight this afternoon to the reddish-orange color of the soon-to-set sun right now, we’re seeing wildfire smoke – but our air quality remains good. The Washington Smoke Information website explains that the smoke is overhead – back on Friday, the site said, “While two waves of smoke are expected to reach our skies, they’ll be at 2 km or higher, and the situation at surface should be very different.” The smoke that is up there is reported to be from Northern California and Oregon, not our state – so far.

ADDED: First “red sun” photo in is from Jerry Simmons:

ADDED: Second one is by Dan Ciske:

11 Replies to "PHOTOS: Why you're seeing smoke, but not breathing it"

  • lowmanbeachdrive August 1, 2021 (9:34 pm)

    It sure didn’t seem healthy out at Lowman Beach tonight.  Hazy.  Also, this came up when I googled air quality in 98136

    Air seemed better up on California Ave. Once you dipped into Lowman Beach, it got kinda yucky.

    • WSB August 1, 2021 (9:47 pm)

      Don’t know how that service calculates its claims but the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is the local authority, and that’s why I linked their map. A variety of other sources also concur (also showing if you google, such as the feds’ AirNow). Also see PSCAA’s sensor map:

      • Que August 2, 2021 (10:37 am)

        WSB: Does the PSCAA have a widget that you could link to on your Weather Page?  That would be super helpful!  

        • WSB August 2, 2021 (11:06 am)

          Sadly, not that I can see. I would embed their map if it were embeddable, but it’s not. Web widgets are somewhat out of favor – some of the ones we’ve populated that page with in the past have been discontinued, or have broken … Will keep looking.

  • Peter August 1, 2021 (9:59 pm)

    Great photos! We’ve been getting an occasional whiff of smoke at the top of Gatewood/Highpoint. 

  • Mr E August 2, 2021 (6:44 am)

    I don’t know if this site will work on mobile phones but check out Ventusky to see wind, rain and temperature maps all over the world. Our skies are may appear ominous but the site shows everything looking good!

  • Mom August 2, 2021 (9:15 am)

    We were definitely breathing in smoke and smelling a burned paper smell last night by the water tower. Closed up the house and ran the AC. I couldn’t believe the air was measuring healthy. 

  • Jay August 2, 2021 (12:02 pm)

    Buy N95 masks now! The ones with the vents that are useless for healthcare are available pretty much everywhere for MSRP, but there will be a rush on them once the smoke makes it hard to breathe.

  • Clinker August 2, 2021 (1:33 pm)

    Purpleair sells low cost sensors and has a public map with several map points right near the junction. Currently it says about 50.Tracy I’m sure you could buy one of these things and have your very own readings. Not NOAA grade but lots of data points.

    • WSB August 2, 2021 (1:41 pm)

      Thanks, but we’re not getting into the air-quality-reading business too! The 24/7 scanner is plenty (and we have a few backyard weather sensors but highly unreliable depending on where the sun’s hitting, so I don’t cite them here).

  • Joe Z August 2, 2021 (3:00 pm)

    Some of the smoke has been mixing down to the surface in the late afternoon but there’s been enough of a marine push at night to clean things out by morning. 

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