June 24, 2020

A Wet British Columbia is Good for Washington State

During the past several years, a major source of wildfire smoke has been the forests in British Columbia.

Just like Washington State, many of the forests have not been well-maintained, growing dense, unhealthy and prone to wildfires.  And smoke from such fires often makes its way into Washington State, as illustrated by July 18, 2017 MODIS satellite imagery:

But the late spring this year has been generally cool, wet, and snowy in British Columbia (see headlines below)

with the the effect of making fire danger quite low right now (see graphic fro British Columbia Wildfire Service).  Blue--very low danger--dominates the lower half of the province. 

And it appears that the wet pattern in southern BC is not going to end soon.

The latest ensemble forecast of accumulated precipitation (running the model many times and taking the average) from the European Center system (the best in the world) through July 9, shows wet conditions in southern BC and northeast Washington.

The precipitation anomaly (difference from normal) for that period (below) shows that some of the values near the Rockies and the far southern part of the province are 1.5-3 inches above normal.

And the thirty day  anomaly encompassing July 7-August 7th continues to be wetter than normal over BC.  And western Washington as well.  This should keep down the fire threat.

The bottom line in all this is that you can probably "breath easy" regarding BC wildfire smoke for the early to mid-summer.   Certainly, a respite that will be welcome with all the COVID and protest/riot worries these days.  And healthy precipitation in BC will help keep the Columbia and other rivers high and cool, which is good news for fish.


  1. Thank you for your educational, insightful, and entertaining posts. Thank you so much for taking the time to produce these. I valued your perspective on "Sharpie-gate" as well.

  2. This info regarding precip encourages me...I have allergy/lung function problems, and I remember how uncomfortable it was in 2017, with all that smoke!...and maybe we will have a cooler summer in the Puget Sound...which I always enjoy!

  3. Cliff,

    It's great to have some good news about normalcy with wildfires--especially with so many things related to Covid-19 being a unknown challenge.

  4. Question: How is the state of forests in Washington and Oregon, northern Idaho this year?

    I'm assuming the news in California is still bad. You are welcome to tell me I'm wrong, though.


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