The smoke in eastern Washington is producing extraordinarily bad air quality near Wenatchee and Cashmere. Let illustrate by showing you a measure of particulates (PM2.5) in the air at Wenatchee (red line) and Seattle (blue line). Seattle stays relatively low, but you can see the impact of the Wenatchee fires, with huge peaks, some exceeding 500 micrograms per cubic meter. That is really high.
|Photo credit: Jonathan Hee of the UW|
We have been very dry the last two months, but are we in a drought? The NOAA Drought Index says NO! (see below)....and they are correct (who am I to doubt the U.S. government?).
Yes, we are breaking all kinds of records for lack of rain in August and September, and consecutive days of rain, but quite frankly, even in a normal year we don't get that much in these months and lack of rain has little impact, particularly since our rain over the past year, and the snowpack starting the summer was normal, or even a bit above normal.
Lets illustrate. Here is a plot of the cumulative precipitation over the past 12 weeks (blue is normal, red is observed) at Sea Tac. You can see how the observed (red) precipitation is flat lined, while normal precipitation is increasing rapidly. Over the past 12 weeks we should have had 3 inches, but only had about 1 inch--thus about 2 inches below normal. Considering Seattle normally receives about 38 inches a year, this is no big deal, and could be made up quickly when storms return.