• Are smoky summer skies the new normal in Seattle?

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    At Log Boom Park in Kenmore, the view of Lake Washington on Tuesday was mostly lost in the haze.

    "You can really feel it, especially today," said Neli Popov, as she stayed in the shade.

    She also wondered if her six-month-old daughter also felt it.

    "She's been coughing these days, I don't know if it's because of that," Popov said.

    Scroll down to continue reading


    More news from KIRO 7


    DOWNLOAD OUR FREE NEWS APP

    The nearest air quality gauge is in Lake Forest Park, which had particulate readings in the unhealthy range.

    The smoke is coming from fires in Canada and Eastern Washington.

    This round of smoky skies follows even worse air quality last summer, including a time in September when we could see falling ash.

    Does climate change mean this is something we need to get used to?

    Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said, "It's not a simple answer."

    Bond told me the winds bringing in the smoke are more a matter of bad luck.

    But, he also pointed to a graph showing how the average temperature in Washington from July through September has risen 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895.

    "The upward trend in temperature is unmistakable so that warming makes us more prone to wildland fires," Bond said.

    And as forests dry out, tree-killing bugs thrive, making the trees easier to burn.

    "We can't totally blame climate change for all the smoke but we are expecting more wildfires so this kind of thing will become more frequent," Bond said.

    The smoke can have a real impact on people's health.

    "For a lot of our patients who have asthma or any COPD or chronic lung condition, they can sense it," said Dr. David Naimi of Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center.

    He said particulates from wood smoke affect patients differently than ozone.

    "If you're part of a sensitive group, and you're having a problem, talk with your doctor," Naimi said.

    Should people having trouble wear masks?

    "You can't just grab any mask and put it on and expect it to be helpful. I think something like an N-95 mask is an example that could be helpful for this sort of pollution we're getting in our air," Naimi said.

    Next Up: