Some areas in the Northwest have “unhealthy” air quality

The primary cause is smoke from wildfires

Air Quality Index smoke
Air Quality Index, August 21, 2018.

Smoke from wildfires continues to plague areas of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. According to, the five cities in the United States with the worst air quality Tuesday were:

  • Cheeka Peak, Seattle-Bellevue-Kent Valley, and Bellingham in Washington;
  • Yreka, California; and
  • Shady Cove, Oregon.

The information below from the National Weather Service reinforces the advice that the least expensive dust masks available at the local hardware store (or a bandana tied over your face) provide almost no protection from smoke. The microscopic particles in smoke from vegetation fires are so small that they cruise right through a mask that may work fine for filtering out dust from working with wood, for example.  As they said, choose a mask called a “particulate respirator” that has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.

map wildfire smoke
The forecast for the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 6 p.m. MDT August 21, 2018.
Red Flag Warnings, August 21, 2018
Red Flag Warnings, August 21, 2018.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Some areas in the Northwest have “unhealthy” air quality”

  1. We had a front blow through Montana (Bitterroot Valley, can’t verify the rest of the state) yesterday. Got .25 according to my civilian RAWS. Cloudy for the most part today, but the front cleared out the smoke quite well.


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