Puget Sound air quality worst in US right now

SEATTLE, Wash. — Puget Sound’s air quality is the worst in the United States as of Friday because of lingering smoke from wildfires in British Columbia.

People in the Seattle area are enduring high temperatures as a thick haze hangs over the city, but the worst of it is in the Tacoma area, where some officials say the air quality is twice as bad as the air in Beijing.

>> Related: Just how bad is the Puget Sound air? This map will tell you

Across the region, the air quality is reaching the “unhealthy” category, and state health leaders are encouraging people to stay indoors. The haze has hovered over Washington since Wednesday, and it improved in some areas but worsened in others as a subtle puff of air came off the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

So when can we expect a less smoky skyline? KIRO 7 meteorologist Morgan Palmer reports the smoke will go away, but we will have to wait.

"We need a strong push of westerly, onshore wind off the Pacific Ocean to fully clean the air, and I don't see that for at least a week," Palmer said.

"The smoky conditions will only gradually improve, with better air quality the farther west you go, especially at the coast. It will stay hazy with problems with air quality around Puget Sound and interior areas well into next week."

The conditions have eased the oppressive heat in the region by partially blocking the sun.

Though the smoke is expected to lessen this weekend, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is still prohibiting all outdoor burning, including charcoal barbecues, in the greater Seattle area.