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The air is pretty clean again. But will it last?

Latest Northwest map shows smoke forecast

Air quality continues to improve on the west side as onshore flow pushes marine air into the area. The east side saw no relief, with air quality decreasing Thursday.
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Air quality continues to improve on the west side as onshore flow pushes marine air into the area. The east side saw no relief, with air quality decreasing Thursday.

Send the kids outside to play. Take the run you’ve been putting off. Or get on that yard work.

The air quality in the Tri-Cities was rated as “good” by the Washington Department of Ecology on Friday morning and “moderate” in the afternoon.

A brown haze still marred the horizon as fires burned in Central and Eastern Washington.

But smoke particles in the Tri-Cities dropped to levels that made outdoor activity healthy for most people, according to the state.

Ozone also was back to nonharmful levels.

On Thursday, ozone and smoke pollution was so bad, the state rated the Tri-Cities’ air as “unhealthy” and urged people to stay indoors.

Outlying areas of the Mid-Columbia still had air quality problems Friday.

In Sunnyside, air was rated as unhealthy for part of the day as a new wildfire burned near the Yakima Training Center.

In north Franklin County, a wildfire was burning near Eltopia, and the air was considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Some sporadic, mostly light rain in the Tri-Cities late Thursday helped clear out some smoke.

The National Weather Service’s monitor in Kennewick recorded 0.01 inch of rain, but some areas of the Tri-Cities appeared to get more.

The wind also helped move smoke particles out of the area, although it also kicked up dust in some places.

But the Tri-Cities may not have seen the last of smoky air, as fire season in the Northwest rages on.

The Tri-Cities has been under an air quality alert most of the week. Rather than allow it to expire, meteorologists on Friday morning extended it until noon Tuesday.

The weekend air quality may not be too bad.

Another storm system is expected Sunday, with thunderstorms in the Blue Mountains. It could help keep smoke dispersed in the Tri-Cities, although it also could mean more lightning-caused fires in the mountains.

The thunderstorms on Thursday ignited 36 fires in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, the Forest Service reported. All were kept to an acre or smaller.

Haze and smoke might increase again in the Tri-Cities early in the work week, which also is the week of the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.

The Department of Ecology is concerned that as the wind shifts to come from the north Sunday night, more smoke could drift into the state from wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533
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