As predicted by our own Ryan Porter of Snoqualmie weather, easterly winds kicked in last early evening, September 7th, leading to a dramatic air quality change in North Bend as wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington moved into blanket the area. I was outside before I made dinner, and it was fine, but when I returned after dinner, I could no longer see the mountains. Other valley residents reported the same striking change on social media, one even remarking the smoke looked like a wall rolling into Fall City.
According to the city of North Bend, those east winds – along with continuing hot, dry weather conditions – means fire risk in the Snoqualmie Valley remains elevated for the next few days. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag [fire] warning, air quality alert and wind advisory for the North Bend area.
The wind advisory and air quality alerts expire today at 11 am, as the easterly winds subside. The air in the valley has shown much improvement over yesterday. Residents can check the North Bend air quality station on the Department of Ecology’s monitoring page here. Air quality level improved to ‘moderate’ in North Bend as of 6 am this morning. Unhealthy air quality means that everyone, especially sensitive groups, should limit time spent outdoors.
Says Ryan, “Much of the smoke is now being pushed offshore by the east winds. Barring any new fires, we should be through the worst of it. Air quality doesn’t look to significantly improve until winds shift to the S/SW late Thursday.”
Because of the plummet in humidity and windy conditions, Eastside Fire & Rescue issued a Phase II Complete Outdoor Burn Ban effective through Thursday, September 10th. Barbecue grills and gas fireplaces are not part of the ban. Later this week, EF&R will evaluate the need to extend the phase II burn ban.
“A sunny summer afternoon [humidity] would normally be around 50-55%. Yesterday evening dipped as low as 20%, depending on the exact location. By comparison, Phoenix can easily get to 15-20%,” said Ryan when I asked what an average day, this time of year, would look like. Current humidity is still low, at 25%.
On top of it all, at about 9:30 last night, about 5k of us lost power leading to a hot, restless night with windows closed against the smoke. Power returned after midnight for most of us. Wind speed last night peaked at 32 mph at Snoqualmie Ridge. According to Ryan, “Enumclaw, considered the epicenter of gap winds due to being in a more direct outflow of the Stampede Gap, recorded a gust of 44 mph.”
How was your night? Let us know in the comments!