West Seattle, Washington
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.
The heat wave’s not over yet. The National Weather Service has issued a “special weather statement” alert for the metro area, warning that the high temperature will be back up in the 90s Sunday and Monday. You can read the entire alert here. The NWS says this is already our area’s second-hottest July on record.
Seattle's long term average of 85+ degree days in July is 4. We've had 8 so far this month. The record is 12 days (2015). Somehow, one gets the feeling that record could be toast before the week is over. #wawx pic.twitter.com/qlIgelBA6w
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) July 23, 2018
With that said, the city’s just sent its list of places to stay cool. In West Seattle, the list includes Delridge Library (5423 Delridge Way SW) and High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond), both open 1-8 pm today, as well as the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon), open weekdays 8:30 am-5 pm. You can see the full city announcement – which also includes advice on staying cool, protecting pets and vulnerable people, etc. – by going here.
P.S. Got other air-conditioning recommendations – restaurants/bars, for example? We don’t keep a standard list because it’s ever-changing but we appreciate suggestions in the comments!
The Moon and Venus have added to the sky show just after sunset this weekend. Top view is from Kanit Cottrell, while Chris Frankovich contributed the planetary closeup below:
Those views were from tonight (after a day with a record high, 93 at Sea-Tac); we also have a beautiful view from last night, courtesy of Mark Dale:
Thanks as always for the photos – email@example.com remains our best current address for sending them.
Whichever way you looked, it was a super sunset. The view from Kanit Cottrell, above, looks directly west at the Olympic Mountains from Gatewood. Elaine Dale, also in that area, looked southwest toward Vashon:
And Marc Milrod‘s view was toward the northwest:
Thanks as always for sharing photos!
Thanks to Carolyn Newman for sharing the colorful view, seen against the clouds to the east. While the sky’s looked foreboding in that direction and to our south, we’re still under a mostly clear sky.
You’ve probably heard it many times – “summer starts in Seattle on July 5th.” Seems appropriate this year, with a beautiful 5th following a cloudy 4th of July night, so we appreciate the photos that captured the sunset starting the heart of summer!
One of those sunsets where the colors just kept intensifying …
Although even our more-muted view an hour later had its own majesty:
We watched the sunset at Alice Enevoldsen‘s early summer-solstice gathering – that story later. First, from the inbox, beautiful images of the post-sunset clouds:
That view is from James Bratsanos. Next one is from Jim Borrow.
And from Kevin Callahan:
Thanks to everyone who shared sunset photos!
Two waves of color in the sky at day’s end – thanks for the photo! First the double rainbow – above, from Birgit Petersen at Seacrest; next, from Doug B. in The Junction:
And from J&R at Constellation Park:
Then the sunset! From Jim Spraker:
And from Mark Dale:
Like this evening’s weather, tomorrow’s weather looks … mixed.
The National Weather Service is warning that Saturday might bring strong wind to our area and much of Western Washington. It’s issued a “special weather statement” saying southerly wind is possible on Saturday “in the 20-30 mph range, with gusts 40 to 45 mph.” Read the full alert here. And keep everything charged!
10:02 AM: Thanks for the texts – we’re seeing it too: Some snow here on the hills. Today’s colder weather has been anticipated for some days, though the official forecast doesn’t mention flakes – it does mention a chance of thunderstorms, and accompanying hail, starting later.
10:34 AM: Continuing to snow off and on – turned to rain for a few minutes, now back to flakes. Not too photogenic so far.
11:11 AM: And in case you’re off-peninsula and wondering … no, it’s not sticking. Too warm. (“Warm” being a relative term here …)
Before the day went gray … three colorful views:
Above – thanks to Frank S.! Below – thanks to Chris Frankovich:
And thanks to Jim Borrow for this view, as fog rolled in:
If you have lost track — spring is just three days away! It arrives at 9:15 am Tuesday.