August 19, 2018

Smoke Now Pushing Into Western Washington

During the next 12 hours there should be a major influx of wildfire smoke into the lower elevations of western Washington.

The MODIS satellite imagery around noon showed very dense smoke over eastern WA and the north Cascades, with lesser but substantial smoke now over northwest Washington, with a thinning from Seattle southward.


The 2PM image from the GOES geostationary satellite, indicates the smoke is slowly moving southward west of the Cascade crest.

The backdrop of Seattle is getting murkier over time.

As of noon, air quality was moderate over the Puget Sound area, except for rapidly worsening conditions at Darrington (see below)


Unfortunately, if our models are correct, low-level air quality is about to get much worse.  The NOAA/NWS HRRR smoke model prediction for near-surface smoke showed high values (red-purple) over the Cascades and eastern WA at noon (1900 UTC)

By 5 PM it is moving into Puget Sound

And fully entrenched at 5 AM Monday. These forecasts are for higher concentrations than in the forecasts for last Wednesday, our last big smoke day.


 The movement of smoke will be supported by a change in the winds aloft.  The following maps the predicted winds (barbs) and temperature (color) at around 5000 ft (850 hPa).  Major strengthening of northerly to easterly winds during the next 24 h.  The first map is for 11AM Sunday....weak wind from the SE.

 By 11 PM, moderate NE winds will be blowing smoke right into us.
 And easterly flow will be in place at 11 AM Monday....pushing the smoke our way.  Not good.

So get rid for a major smoke event.   No, I am not going call it Smokezilla.



48 comments:

  1. Thank you for keeping us informed about this, Cliff!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do we have any indication yet how long this event may last?

    ReplyDelete
  3. This smoke is literally killing my 76 yr old Stepmom. why is our government not doing what it takes to extinguish these fires?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because the fires are in Canada... And, they probably are. It's not like you can just rock up with a fire truck and put out a forest fire.

      Delete
    2. They are -- in many cases, they're throwing literally everything they have at them. However, although climate change means that these fires are happening more frequently and to a greater extent than years ago, wildfire is still an important natural part of ecosystems. Decades of disallowing fires to run through forests created unsafe fire loads and unnatural and unhealthy biomes.

      I hope your stepmom can get into an indoor space with better air quality, or get help from medical professionals!

      Delete
    3. This is a result of poor forestry management practices...not global warming.

      Delete
    4. You need to move your stepmother to a safer location.

      Delete
  4. Any idea or theory as to how long the smoke will last this time?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice work Cliff. Always so informative. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jeff, My sympathies to your grandma, you and everyone else. IMO our government is doing what they can to extinguish the fires with the resources they have. I think that all available resources in the west have been deployed. I read one article about some Aussies making the long trip here to help out. From my perspective in Winthrop the fire fighters are doing a remarkable job. Its just a very, very large and difficult problem and quite frankly only a significant rain is going to put these fires out.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Are there any measures that could be done in BC (and eastern WA) to reduce future fires, such as better forest management? Do you think this change in Seattle air over the past two summers is essentially caused by climate change and will be the new normal?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Is news underplaying severity of the current WAQA levels? Levels in eastern washington are already well beyond the 'evacuate' levels according to WAQA advisory board.

    Here in east Auburn the levels have gone from 70 to 200 in just a few hours today and it's showing no signs of slowing down. We will likely reach hazardous levels by tonight and tomorrow.

    Cliff, should the local government/new be doing more to inform of the current unhealthy risks? I've seen no news outlet or local news suggest evacuating yet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Impressive forecasting - smoke arrived right on schedule. Thank you for keeping us informed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @jeff, there are over 14,000 firefighters in California working on extinguishing these fires. The better question to ask is why our government is not doing what it takes to prevent these fires in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We voted for them, this is what we get. Maybe they did poor forest management on purpose to have the ability to further the climate change narrative for the sake of manipulating public opinion into blindly accepting their point of view so that we stay asleep whilst keeping their pockets healthy with our hard earned money.

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the update. Any idea of when the smoke will clear?

    These fires are a result of global climate change, and we need to act NOW to preserve a decent future for our kids. Please learn about the devastating impacts of animal agriculture on the Planet, go vegan, and spread the word!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Throwing around global climate change as the culprit for every environmental and weather phenomenon just cheapens the phrase. Please do yourself a favor and inform yourself before you begin to preach from your soapbox... Or at least read Cliff's post from a couple weeks ago.

      Delete
    2. Climate change AND diet change are both scary, I get it Tony! Nobody likes change. The science is in, and animal agriculture is ruining this beautiful Earth, causing unfathomable suffering in its wake. Just telling it like it is-not my opinion. Fact is fact: the sooner we stop funding one of the most destructive industries in the world, the better we ALL are, and our health and happiness will reflect this positive change! 🌱

      Delete
  12. We are in Zillah right now, wine tasting for the weekend. The conditions today have been as bad as I have ever seen. PM 2.5 counts are at 209 - you can't see more than a quarter mile ahead of you.

    Although, that's paradise compared to Chelan. The count over there is 476...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jeff, the majority of the smoke in the air is coming from fires in British Columbia. Let's save the government bashing for events in which it actually applies, okay?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jeff, it is literally impossible for a government to extinguish a forest fire. We can sometimes contain them--which may or may not be wise for reasons of forest health or severity of future fires--but that's different than extinguish. Fires that have been contained continue to smolder within fire lines until extinguished by precipitation. Many of these fires are too remote to even attempt containment. As a health care provider, I do sympathize with your stepmother, though. I hope she can find good indoor air quality.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Around 19:00 in Bothell, the sun was pretty much blotted out. Tomorrow's going to be ugly. Really hoping some of the predictions I've been hearing - including the lifting of the air quality alert on Wednesday afternoon - holds up.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Seriously obscured moon tonight. I thought it's brightness was similar to that of a lunar eclipse.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Potentially 'hazardous' begins at 51 for select populations. Stop wishing other people will solve your problems for you and go buy some high quality air filters before they are temporarily sold out.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Where do I find a multiday particulate forecast?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I can recall visiting Hells Canyon in BC about 15 years ago and seeing a forest fire burning on the opposite slope. Nobody was fighting it. When I asked a local about it he said it was policy to let fires burn unless property was threatened. If you look at the history of fire suppression in BC it followed a similar path to ours with an important difference. It just wasn't possible to suppress fires as vigorously as we did because of the immense size of the forests, their inaccessibility, fewer people living there, and fewer resources than we had. Looking at a map of fires in BC there are a lot of them and some of the worst are in the central plateau, basically wilderness and on the slopes of the Rockies.
    Generally the trend of fires in BC has been in a down slope but that has reversed dramatically in the last three years which also coincides with hot dry spring and summers.
    So, while fire suppression has contributed to the problem in BC it is hardly the only factor.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love it... defund all government science/environmental programs, then complain about the government when you have to suffer the consequences. Bonus points for using that failure to advocate for further government funding reduction.

    Carry on, folks! At this point in my life, I won't see the worst of the consequences, but I hope our children are happy with our decisions.

    ReplyDelete
  21. For those interested in the smoke forecasts
    List of products:
    https://rapidrefresh.noaa.gov/hrrr/HRRRsmoke/Welcome.cgi?dsKey=hrrr_smoke&domain=t1&run_time=20+Aug+2018+-+12Z

    If you select 'NW' for the domain, and then the 'loop' column, you can see how things evolve over time.
    Animation:
    https://rapidrefresh.noaa.gov/hrrr/HRRRsmoke/jsloopLocalDiskDateDomainZipTZA.cgi?dsKeys=hrrr_smoke:&runTime=2018082012&plotName=trc1_t1sfc&fcstInc=60&numFcsts=37&model=hrrr&ptitle=HRRR-Smoke%20Model%20Fields%20-%20Experimental&maxFcstLen=36&fcstStrLen=-1&resizePlot=1&domain=t1

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please learn about the devastating impacts of animal agriculture on the Planet, go vegan, and spread the word!

    How does vegan help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To go vegan is to defund one of the most environmentally destructive industries on Earth. Boycott the main source of deforestation, ocean acidification, soil erosion, fresh water usage, and in the process, live more healthfully and ethically. Feels great. Watch Cowspiracy in Netflix. 🐄

      Delete
    2. http://www.cowspiracy.com/

      Delete
  23. All the people saying this is only due to poor forestry management practices have zero evidence that the 500+ wildfires in remote British Columbia are caused by forestry management failures. Think about it. BC (and Washington and Oregon) have massive, remote, inaccessible forests and with the spread of the mountain pine beetle (again due to climate change - mild winters mean fewer are frozen to death so they multiply), there is ample dry, dead trees to start forest fires.

    Cliff Mass may have posted a statement saying that dry underbrush and forest management is one cause. But it is not the only, or even primary cause. He is not the only climate scientist and there is plenty of evidence that hotter, drier summers in the west are causing the last 2-3 years of unprecidented fires.

    ReplyDelete
  24. TW B

    That's absolutely correct. So if wildfires have been allowed to burn naturally, then the claim that poor forestry management practices are the main driver of these fires is false.

    What then is causing fires larger than 10,000 acres if BC allowed natural fires to clear dead underbrush for decades?

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Smoke is terrible, gonna get worse before better. Hate it. Have been longing for relieving rains for weeks.
    Here's an interesting new paper on how arctic warming is CONTRIBUTING to the probability of various extreme events including fires, briefly summarized at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/20/summer-weather-is-getting-stuck-due-to-arctic-warming Note CONTRIBUTING. Wildfire like other such events have multiple causes - material causes (flammable stuff like grass, houses, propane tanks trees and understory); predisposing causes (drought, heat, winds) that reflect unique one-off circumstance AND/OR long term conditions and trends; immediate causes (downed power line, lightening strike, campfire).

    Thanks, Cliff for starting to talk about known and shifting probabilities of multiple causal contributions to weather and weather events. That should help us all to more realistic views of what's going on than overly simplistic statements, whoever makes them, that "climate changes NEVER 'causes' any event" or "climate change 'causes' every extreme event".

    ReplyDelete
  27. But Kirk,

    Since you seem to know a bit about forest management...

    Dry wood burns faster, with less smoke than moist or wet wood does.

    So, if this is all "dry dead wood," why the HUGE amounts of smoldering, smokey fires? We've had bad fire seasons in the past, before the recent "smoke summers." So has BC. Same wind patterns (generally).

    But not nearly the smoke problem. Mount St. Helens is starting to worry about her throne as a smoke generator. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looks like Spokane has a solution:

    "After much deliberation and mathematical calculation, we have figured that it is absolutely possible for us to blow this smoke away with high powered fans," the site organizers wrote. "This Friday, every resident must place at least 5 box fans on their roof. Turn your fans on to the highest setting, and aim them toward northeastern Canada. Team work makes the dream work. Let’s do this, Spokanites. Let’s send this smoke right back to those Canucks!"

    ReplyDelete
  29. When will the winds shift and clear the smoke out the Puget Sound lowlands?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I couldn't resist taking my own, quick look at just raw CA fire statistics 2018 to current. It might not seem like much to some but as of today just the two 2018 Ranch (Mendocino) and Carr fires alone have burnt 0.56% of California's total land area...if you add the majors (counting only those >10,000 acres, rounded to nearest thousand) for 2018:

    Total CA area - 101,000,000 acres

    Carr Fire - 230,000 acres
    Ranch (Mendocino) - 341,000 acres
    Natchez - 20,000 acres
    Hirz - 15,000 acres
    County - 90,000 acres
    Donnell - 32,000 acres
    Ferguson - 97,000 acres
    Lions - 11,000
    Holy - 23,000 acres
    Stone - 27,000 acres
    Cranston - 13,000 acres
    Waverly - 12,000 acres
    Ranch (River) - 49,000 acres
    Pawnee - 15,000 acres
    Whaleback - 19,000 acres

    SO ~994,000 acres total 2018 to current

    That means ~0.98% of CA has burnt so far in 2018 alone? Likely over 1.0% if you count everything to current. And in 2017 California alone lost about 1,381,405 acres total to fires like these, or about 1.37%. I guess we're on track for the same this year? No sass over sig figs plz. ;o) It makes me wonder how much of California's land area is truly 'combustible' (arable, if you will, for anything from grasses to spinach to redwoods) and what percentage of 'that' these numbers comprise. But - on track to burn about 2.5-3.0% in just two years? Then what is recovery going to be like if rainy weather doesn't cooperate. Desertification of Napa? (couldn't resist)

    Even more alarming is taking a look at how far north the fire incidents in B.C. extend. It would be interesting to look at historical fire data to see what, if any, impact permafrost had on suppression in the past. Then there are WA, OR...

    Sources:
    https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
    https://projects.sfchronicle.com/2018/fire-tracker/
    https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/agvision/docs/Agricultural_Loss_and_Conservation.pdf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_California_wildfires

    And a look at BC (~2.47 acres per hectare):
    http://google.org/crisismap/google.com/2018-british-columbia-wildfires

    ReplyDelete
  31. It is seems most likely the fires are a result of a combination of climate change and fire suppression.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I have lived in the Seattle area since 1964, and it, the weather and smoke, not to mention the TRAFFIC, has really sucked the last several years. I am happy that I have moved to the Central Coast of California. Paradise here.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Here's some more:

    https://twitter.com/MikeBastasch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1031260449180983296&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fdailycaller.com%2F2018%2F08%2F20%2Fscience-wildfires-global-warming%2F

    On a historical level, there have been innumerable massive fires for centuries in and around the West and PNW, period.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ted Talk: Why wildfires have gotten worse and what we can do about them.
    Worth watching.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Vayv9FCLM

    ReplyDelete
  35. Going totally vegan would mean the destruction of millions of acres of natural habitat in the wild, not to mention the incredible amounts of water and resultant toxic runoff needed to irrigate all of that land. Need we also mention that massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides that would also be required in order to safeguard the world's food supply? Additionally, the deforestation would also be massive, in order to clear the unprecedented amounts of land needed for this kind of transition. This oft - told claim has been obliterated by environmental scientists for years.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/what-would-happen-if-all-americans-went-vegan

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/11/15/1707322114

    Stop watching politically - oriented agitprop and start reading scientific studies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eric Blair, take an good long look at the state of the world now and tell me why it’s a good idea to keep doing what we’re doing. Clearly, humans have wreaked havoc on this beautiful Earth and time is running out to DO something. To change. Humbly and wholistcally. Going vegan means withdrawing our financial support from an industry that dumps feces into the water, cuts down acres of forests to grow crops to feed animals rather than humans directly, and sucks up vast amounts of fresh drinkable water. Going vegan means minimizing harm to animals. Going vegan means taking better care of ourselves and thriving without traditionally consumed products that come from dead animals. Going vegan is a GOOD thing! The science is clear, and a vegans’ conscience is clear too.

      Remember: it doesn’t make any sense to filter water and plant proteins through animals so that we can then eat the animals. Eat the plants directly and save resources and lives.

      http://news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat

      http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

      https://awfw.org/





      Delete
  36. When you make appeals based strictly on emotion and hyperbole, you eventually lose the argument - every time. The public eventually becomes jaded and tuned out twith this kind of fact - free reasoning. BTW, Time ceased to exist as anything more than a PAC blog years ago. It was recently sold for pennies on the dollar. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are wrong Eric. Cynical and wrong. There is a plethora of scientific evidence pointing out the disastrous impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. Nothing emotional about that! Other than the depressing fact that it’s extraordinarily difficult to convince people to pay attention to the FACTS and CHANGE their ways. It must be exhausting having to pretend the science doesn’t matter, or that ethics and health don’t matter. I don’t envy you the position of clinging to the ways of the horse and buggy as progress is happening all around you. To be vegan is a good thing! Embrace it!!

      Delete
  37. Seriously obscured moon tonight. I thought it's brightness was similar to that of a lunar eclipse.moon rocks

    ReplyDelete

Thunderstorms Possible This Afternoon

 The final stage in our wet interval is about to begin:  the potential for thunderstorms in western Washington. Lightning has been no strang...