West Seattle, Washington
We’re on wind watch with the advisory continuing until 4 am; the forecast currently says the gustiest wind is expected after midnight. We’ll be updating with anything of note we hear about, starting with:
11:43 PM, UTILITY POLE DOWN: Don’t know whether it’s weather-related, but a texter reports that a pole and wire are down on 34th SW between Myrtle and Othello and that police are on scene.
1 AM UPDATE: Breezy but nothing dramatic. The Alki Point reading (K91S on this list) is 21 mph at the top of the hour. A little dicey on the roads, though, with crashes this past hour on the westbound West Seattle Bridge and at Admiral Way/39th SW.
1 AM, THE SECOND TIME AROUND: Welcome to Standard Time! Alki Point’s at 22 mph now.
3 AM: Same velocity. Overall, things have been relatively quiet. From indoors, we’ve been hearing the rain more than the wind.
TIPS/INFO? Text/voice 206-293-6302 any time.
10:50 AM: We mentioned on Friday that gusty wind was on the way. Now there’s an official “wind advisory” for 8 pm tonight through 4 pm tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service (tan area on the map above):
* WIND…Southerly winds increasing to 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph.
* TIMING…Winds increasing early this evening and continuing into the early morning hours on Sunday. Winds easing around 4 am Sunday morning.
* IMPACTS…Isolated power outages possible. Plenty of leaves left on the trees could get blown off tonight. This combined with the rain could result in some clogged storm drains producing minor flooding on area roads.
If you can, today is also a good time to clean up the leaves that already have come down – if you have residential yard-waste pickup, you can set out extra containers for free this month.
3:15 PM: The advisory‘s been revised a bit – we could see gusts up to 50 mph, the NWS now says.
Thanks to Jim Borrow for the rainbow view from Alki! Before we get to the news and events – a forecast reminder: The wind could gust up to 30 mph this afternoon, 35 mph tomorrow night and Sunday, and with some leaves still on the trees, that’s still enough to possibly cause trouble this time of year. As always, if there’s weather trouble – outage, downed tree, etc. – wherever you are, once you’ve notified authorities, please let us know too! 206-293-6302 is our text/voice hotline, 24/7.
Thanks to Monica Zaborac for the photo from Constellation Park south of Alki Point! If you’re a wave-watcher, things are wet and wild there right about now, with an 11.4-foot high tide at 12:58 pm and winds from the south to southwest. Gusts could get up to 35 mph later today, according to the forecast, maybe 40 mph tomorrow, so even though that’s not quite warning level, it’s a good idea to keep things charged, just in case.
(WSB file photo)
As the leaves continue falling off trees, a fall rainstorm is on the way – more than an inch expected!- so it’s time (as @WestSeaWX reminded us via Twitter earlier today) to check your nearest storm drain(s). Clear away leaves and other debris if needed. P.S. If you have lots of leaves to clear in the days and weeks ahead, and you are a household pickup customer with Seattle Public Utilities, you’ll be able to put out up to 10 extra bags of yard waste in November at no extra charge.
Thanks for the photos from above the fog! Top pic is by Eugene Lee, looking west from Gatewood, near Myrtle Reservoir Park. Below, by Susanna Moore, looking northeast toward downtown:
And from Twitter:
— Ethan Owens (@Twixted1) October 20, 2018
That fog today 🦄 pic.twitter.com/dvqk3w0Gbc
— Dené Miles (@DeneMiles) October 20, 2018
And one more sunset view e-mailed to us, from Gatewood, by Stephen Sills:
Forecast says we might have “areas of fog” tomorrow morning too.
Look what’s back – mountain snow! Lynn Hall photographed the morning glow on The Brothers early today. The National Weather Service notes that Friday was relatively cold down here at sea level, too – in more than 120 years of recordkeeping, Friday’s high of 53 degrees was the lowest October 5th high ever recorded. (The old record was 54 degrees on October 5, 2007.)
The predicted wind is not at an alert/warning level, but the National Weather Service wants you to be aware that tomorrow could be “breezy” enough to bring down some tree branches, which ups the risk of power outages. The predicted speed, with the wind switching from south to north, will be 15 to 25 mph, possibly gusting to 35 mph. You know the advice: Charge everything, just in case! (Thanks to @WestSeaWx for the tip.)
8:42 PM: Tonight’s pink setting sun was a reminder there’s still smoke in the area – while not enough to hamper cross-Sound visibility, the Olympics were mostly out of view. The Washington Smoke Information website says you can blame BC fires for that, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency adds:
We may see some smoke from the Vancouver Island fires Wednesday morning, which could cause levels to briefly reach MODERATE or UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Rain and clouds are expected to follow that evening and into Thursday which should keep our long-term AQ in the GOOD to MODERATE through Friday.
ADDED: Thanks to Tiff Rivera for these views of the sunset and moonrise:
Thanks to Keith Davidson for the sunset-and-heron photo from Beach Drive, near Cormorant Cove. We have two smoke-related notes as the night ends:
ANOTHER CANCELLATION: The city sent word tonight that the High Point Market Garden Farm Stand will NOT be open tomorrow because of the unhealthy air.
FORECAST UPDATE: Here’s what the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is saying tonight:
Air pollution is still at UNHEALTHY levels throughout the Puget Sound region. With a high pressure weather system over our region pushing the smoke down, we expect UNHEALTHY levels to continue on well into tomorrow. We hope to see some clearing tomorrow night, but with all the smoke around the Pacific Northwest, it may take until Thursday to get cleaner air.
P.S. The heat is notable, too, says the National Weather Service:
Even with the smoke the high at Sea-Tac airport today was 91° breaking the record of 88° set in 1966. Today is the 11th 90°+ day in Seattle this year. In over 120 years of records there has been only 2 years with double digit 90°+ days, 12 in 2015 and 11 so far this year. #wawx
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) August 22, 2018
Our photo taken a short time ago from Alki Avenue is about what you CAN’T see: Normally on a sunny summer day, looking across Puget Sound from that spot, you’d see Bainbridge Island, with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop. Right now – that’s all entirely obscured. While visibility improved a little early this morning, this afternoon it’s worsened in a big way, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has joined regional health departments in renewing their health alert:
Air pollution levels are rising across Puget Sound region again and levels are expected to be UNHEALTHY for everyone today. Smoke is expected to impact air quality over the next few days. Air pollution levels will rise and fall, so we encourage you check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency air quality map to see the latest air quality nearest you.
Right now, the level is indeed UNHEALTHY in all directions. The Washington Smoke Information website says we can expect some clearing Thursday. Meantime, a Stage I burn ban has been ordered, to take effect at 5 pm. That means:
No outdoor burning during a Stage 1 air quality burn ban including:
• No charcoal barbecues or similar solid fuel devices
• No campfires or bonfires
• No fire pits, chimineas, fire bowls, or similar free-standing devices
• No fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves, or uncertified inserts*
• No agricultural fires (as described in the agricultural burn permit)
• Local fire districts do not grant Native American ceremonial fire permits outside of tribal lands during air quality burn bans.
It is OK to use natural gas and propane grills, stoves, or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
* The only exception to using fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves or inserts, is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ exemption from the Clean Air Agency
9:23 PM: As seen from Lincoln Park, tonight’s sunset was a “normal” orange …
… but by tomorrow night, if forecasters are right, we might be back to those wildfire-smoke-filtered pink sunsets again, at least for a few days. Weather analyst Cliff Mass has gone so far as to warn of a “smokestorm.”
ADDED EARLY SUNDAY: The smoke’s already moving in – check the red tinge on tonight’s moon, photographed by Jamie Kinney:
Still smoky at sunset, but clearer than it was last night – Bainbridge and other islands were visible from West Seattle’s west-facing shore, though the Olympic Mountains remained hidden by haze. The National Weather Service says “onshore flow” will continue clearing the air through tomorrow. The Washington Smoke Information website, however, says slightly ominously, “It may be short lived, but we expect at least a couple days of cleaner air coming up.” As for the fires themselves – they remain numerous; we note that one just past Hood Canal that we mentioned shortly after it started, when things first started getting smoky here nine days ago, is now past 1,300 acres.
That’s the view West Seattle pilot/photographer Long Bach Nguyen had of our peninsula last night … you can only imagine what it looks like tonight. Earlier today, he did get to fly above the wildfire smoke – here’s Mount Rainier (elevation 14,400+ feet) peeking above:
The National Weather Service’s “special weather statement” about the smoke does offer a bit of hope: “Conditions may start to improve Wednesday as an upper level trough begins to approach the area…bringing a better chance for increased onshore flow.” Meantime, Twitter users have been providing photographic perspective:
Air quality comparison from West Seattle. :( pic.twitter.com/VqEC3o64J0
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) August 14, 2018
Here’s my view. June 24th and today. pic.twitter.com/3K1TZErztE
— Emilie Menard Barnard (@emiliebarnard) August 15, 2018
About the smoke itself – lots of updated info on the Washington Smoke Information website.
As this increasingly smoky day moves into late afternoon, an air-quality alert just arrived by e-mail, from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and health agencies around the metro area:
Air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke and may cause health problems.
We expect air quality to reach levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS overnight and into tomorrow in many areas. A high pressure system is pushing upper-level wildfire smoke down. Smoke from British Columbia and the Cascades is continuing to build in the Puget Sound region today. Winds tomorrow afternoon could help clean the air. Thankfully, we don’t expect this to last as long as it did last summer. We are forecasting for GOOD to MODERATE air quality Wednesday and beyond.
Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:
Sensitive groups should take precautions, including: children, older adults, and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (such as asthma and COPD), or that have had a stroke.
Stay indoors when possible.
Limit your physical activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, and sports.
Close windows in your home, if possible, and keep the indoor air clean. If you have an air conditioner, use the “recirculation” switch. Use an indoor air filter if available.
If you do not have an air conditioner, consider finding a public place with clean, air-conditioned indoor air like a public library or a community center.
Avoid driving, when possible. If you must drive, keep the windows closed. If you use the car’s fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the car; don’t pull air from outside.
Schools and daycare providers should consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them indoors.
N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. These masks are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.
For more information on ways to reduce your exposure, see the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Fire tips.
Air quality conditions may change quickly. Check the air quality forecast regularly at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.
As always, check with your health care provider for more specific questions and concerns.
Thanks to Mike Shaughnessy for the view from Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza, and James Bratsanos for the view from Fauntleroy, looking at what might be one of the last smoky sunsets for a bit.
8:39 PM: Thanks to David Hutchinson for the view from Alki. He and others pointed out smoke from the south end of the Olympics, and after some research, we’re thinking it’s the fire near Hamma Hamma on Hood Canal, now more than 70 acres, burning in what’s described as “steep terrain.”
The state is calling this the Maple wildfire.
12:35 AM: As we say goodbye to the weekend – contributed photos captured the pink of Sunday’s sunset, and the Blue Angels‘ flight earlier.
Thanks as always for the photos!
ADDED 10:45 AM: In case you wondered … the Blue Angels are gone until next year:
— The Museum of Flight (@museumofflight) August 6, 2018
Two similar views of tonight’s smoke-reddened sunset (along with Siberia and B.C., Northern California is a factor too, says Cliff Mass) – one with something extra. Above, David Hutchinson‘s view from Alki as the sun started to slip behind the Olympics … below, Robin Sinner‘s view, with a seabird that’s been audible inland too:
The silhouetted bird is a Caspian Tern, and their call – which some have described as “prehistoric” (see and hear them here) – has been heard more inland than we recall from previous years. We asked one of our expert local bird/wildlife watchers, Kersti Muul, about it recently and she said the terns heard away from the water are likely carrying food to a nesting colony that’s in the east Duwamish area.