With rain that had been in the forecast for Monday failing to fall, wildfire smoke that swept into the region last week continues to linger.
Forecasts from the National Weather Service and the state Department of Ecology’s Air Monitoring Network now suggest the haze will remain until at least Thursday, until enough rain or wind comes to filter or fan the smoke out of the area.
Some showers remain in the forecast before Thursday, but they are likely to be scattered and light.
“This seems unlikely to be enough to scour the smoke and poor air quality affecting the area,” a National Weather Service forecast discussion page states.
While the smoke — largely from major fires in California and Oregon, although several others are burning in Eastern Washington — lingers, air quality will remain unhealthy throughout much of the state.
As of Monday afternoon, air quality remained at “very unhealthy” levels at the Mount Vernon and Anacortes monitoring stations that provide data to Ecology’s Air Monitoring Network.
Skagit County’s air has been at very unhealthy levels since mid-Friday, according to Air Monitoring Network data.
For Skagit and nearby counties, air quality impacts from wildfire smoke are now forecast to improve slightly from generally unhealthy levels Monday to unhealthy for sensitive groups Tuesday, according to the Air Monitoring Network.
When air quality is unhealthy, the state Department of Health advises staying indoors, filtering indoor air if possible and avoiding strenuous activity.
Sensitive groups include those with heart, lung and respiratory disease and illness; children, the elderly and pregnant women; and those who smoke.
With fires burning in several Western states, it’s also likely more smoke is on its way to Northwest Washington.
“To add to our woes, light southerly winds will continue for another day at least, dragging more smoke directly from Oregon fires northward along the I-5 corridor,” a Monday blog post from Ecology states.
The smoke was bad enough Monday that Skagit County’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site remained closed for a third consecutive day.
Skagit County’s Unified Command, which oversees the site, will reassess whether it is safe to reopen the site Tuesday, according to a news release from the county.