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October 14, 2019 | 3:58pm
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Smoky haze colors sunrises and sunsets and also creates concerns

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Whatcom County residents have seen a smoky haze that crept into the area last week increase this weekend. This has made it difficult to view Mount Baker from a distance while sunsets and sunrises are full of brilliant oranges and reds.

According to an emergency services dispatch tracking system, PulsePoint, Whatcom County fire districts have responded to numerous reports of outside fires and smoke that required investigation. Whatcom County Fire Inspector Mitch Nolze advised, “Fires in B.C. and eastern WA are creating smoky and hazy conditions throughout Whatcom County. Do not call 911 unless you know of a fire start or life safety hazard.”

Fortunately, nearby air quality monitoring stations are not reporting air quality measures outside of the GOOD range on the WAQA scale (PDF file) except for a few short-lived spikes into the MODERATE range (see graph above).

This morning, Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) said to expect smoke from eastern Washington fires to continue to flow into communities along the Cascade foothills. Light amounts of the Siberian and BC smoke overhead may also mix with surface air during the day, more so at higher elevations, Ecology officials said. While air quality is expected to remain GOOD in most of western Washington, it may reach MODERATE at times and reaching UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS cannot be ruled out according to Ecology officials.

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A change in winds and cooling expected Tuesday is expected to slowly reduce the amount of smoke in the atmosphere over Whatcom County.

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