Many parts of western Washington dealing with ‘moderate’ air quality as smoky conditions persist

SEATTLE — Areas of western Washington still have hazy skies on Monday with a lot of the area in the “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” air quality range, according to the Washington Smoke blog.

Most of the areas in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range are on the Eastside with spots in downtown and South Seattle.

The worst air quality continues to be east of Monroe near Sultan, Gold Bar and Index, which are closer to the Bolt Creek Fire, which has been burning near Skykomish since Sept. 10. Those areas are listed as “unhealthy.”

Air scientists attribute the smoke buildup to a lack of rain and calm weather. Greame Carlvin with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency cautions that smoke will hang around until a coastal breeze blows in.

“Really, what we’re looking for is wind to pick up from out over the ocean, start blowing in some cool breeze,” said Carlvin. “That would help push some out and lift it up and away.”

Highs will warm back into the upper 70s and lower 80s.

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High pressure is still over the area, but it’s shifting east, which will help move some fresh air into the region over the next couple of days.

The record high for Oct. 3 is 80 degrees, which was also the forecast high for Monday. A new record high of 80 degrees was set on Sunday.

On Tuesday, marine air and low clouds will push in over the entire area, helping to improve air quality and lower temperatures. Look for some low clouds and afternoon sun on Tuesday and the next few days with highs in the low 70s.

The pattern won’t change much through the workweek, with highs staying in the mid-70s with partly to mostly sunny skies.

This weekend, temperatures will be at least in the upper 70s with more sun.

There is no rain in sight.

Amanda Monthei with Western Washington Emergency Management says they’re making progress, but a little rain would make all the difference. She says the lack of wind is what’s helping crews keep flames at bay.

“We’re taking advantage of not seeing these really gusty winds,” said Monthei. “We haven’t had a good, wetting rain like (we normally) would have at this point in the season.”