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A haze of wildfire smoke is visible across eastern Ferndale (September 11, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Heavy wildfire smoke from the south pulls down Ferndale air quality

FERNDALE, Wash. — Air quality has greatly diminished again this week according to a Northwest Clean Air Agency air quality monitoring station on Loomis Trail Road in Custer.

Air quality history graph reported at 2pm by a NW Clean Air Agency monitoring station on Loomis Trail Road in north Custer (September 11, 2020).
GoodAir pollution is minimal and there is little health risk.
ModeratePeople with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or have had a stroke may begin to have breathing problems.
Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsMany more people than average may have breathing problems or have worsened symptoms of existing lung or heart disease.
UnhealthyMany more people than average may have breathing problems or have worsened symptoms of existing lung or heart disease.
Very UnhealthySome healthy people can have breathing problems. People with asthma, lung and heart disease have an increased risk of symptoms or worsening of their disease. Studies show the number of people hospitalized for lung diseases can be 50 percent more than normal.
HazardousMore healthy people are likely to have breathing problems. The people most susceptible are those with asthma or lung disease, diabetes, have had a stroke, infants, children, pregnant women, and adults older than 65. Studies suggest more people with asthma, lung or heart disease need medical attention.
Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) ranges. Source: NW Clean Air Agency

The forecasted wind direction change to southerly occurred overnight and is likely to blame for the increase in particulate matter in the air.

Areas in southwest Washington and much of Oregon and California have been struggling under dense clouds of wildfire smoke for days with no expectation of relief in the near future.

Forecasters fear the southerly winds will pull the dense smoke northward into the Puget Sound region, including Whatcom County. Current forecasts are for the southerly wind direction to remain through the weekend but then changes are to easterly which have the potential for pulling smoke from eastern Washington wildfires.

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An air quality alert remains in effect to 11am Monday, September 14th, for Puget Sound region counties. Air quality is expected to be within the Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy and Hazardous ranges across most of western Washington through at least Monday according to the 3pm update to the alert. Western Washington residents are warned to expect conditions worsen overnight as calmer winds will allow smoke to settle closer to the ground.

The Ferndale area experienced days of “VERY UNHEALTHY” air quality due to wildfire smoke back in August of 2018 that ultimately reached into the “HAZARDOUS” range as shown on the following graph from the same air monitoring station on Loomis Trail Road.

air quality reported by nwcaa station on loomis trail road 2018-08-23 1000
Air quality history graph reported at 10am by NW Clean Air Agency monitoring station on Loomis Trail Road in north Custer (August 23, 2018).

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