The smoke cleared some Sunday morning in the Tri-Cities — but it did not last.
Tri-City residents woke up to air quality rated “unhealthy for sensitive groups” by the Benton Clean Air Agency on Sunday morning.
While that’s not desirable, it was an improvement from the start of the weekend, with air quality that was so poor that N-95 respirator masks were recommended for people spending time outdoors.
By 2 p.m. Sunday the air was again smoky enough that it was rated “unhealthy’ for all people in the Tri-Cities. Respirators were not recommended, but caution was.
Clean air is not in the Tri-Cities’ immediate future, according to the National Weather Service and others monitoring air conditions.
Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia is expected to continue to move over the Mid-Columbia this week.
A temperature inversion improved air quality west of the Cascades, keeping smoke aloft in some places. Many monitors along the Interstate 5 corridor showed air quality rated as “good” or “moderate” on Sunday.
But Eastern Washington has not been so fortunate.
“A pattern shift that will help us ventilate out isn’t in the cards until Saturday,” according to Washington Smoke Information, a website maintained by volunteers from county, state, federal agencies and tribes.
It predicts that air quality could remain mostly in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range or worse for several days more in much of Eastern Washington.
The National Weather Service has issued an air quality advisory for most of the eastern half of the state through noon Wednesday, but also predicts that the smoky haze will persist through Friday. The early forecast says skies might be clear again on the coming weekend.
The Sunday rating of “unhealthy” meant all people should limit time spent outdoors, avoid exercising outdoors and choose non-strenuous activities indoors, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Children, pregnant women and adults over age 65 should stay indoors. People with health conditions, ranging from asthma to diabetes, also should stay indoors.
High temperatures in the Tri-Cities are expected to remain in the low triple digits each day through at least Saturday. Low temperatures are expected to remain in the low to mid 60s through Friday night.