Turns out the smoke will hang around much longer than expected, forecasters said Monday morning.
The weak weather system that was expected to bring light rain and wind to help push out the smoke Monday won't be strong enough to clear the air, according to the weather service.
"Smoke models have been forecasting decreasing smoke the last couple of days but this hasn't panned out. Smoke seems certain to linger today and possibly further into the week with generally light winds and limited mixing," forecasters said Monday morning. "A weak frontal system will bring some showers later today and tonight. Models have been trending weaker and drier with this system and showers will be light and spotty at best. This seems unlikely to be enough to scour the smoke and poor air quality affecting the area."
The state Department of Ecology said the "lackluster weather feature that won't do much for us."
Air quality in Western Washington is mostly "very unhealthy," worse than previous computer model forecasts that advertised substantial improvements, Ecology officials said Monday morning. Very unhealthy air means that everyone should stay indoors, avoid strenuous activity, close windows and doors, set air conditioning to recirculate air, and use HEPA air filters if possible, according to the weather service.
"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," according to the Ecology smoke forecast. "So even if the ubiquitous smoke pool from offshore starts to erode a bit, a replacement is en route."
The next possible chance for a change in the weather to blow the smoke away is Friday when another weak system is forecast to slide through, according to the weather service.
An air quality burn ban — which means campfires or fire pits — in Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish and Island counties remains in effect.
The nearest wildfire, the Downey Creek Fire about 17 miles east of Darrington, has grown to more than 2,400 acres as of Sunday, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire in the remote Glacier Peak Wilderness is sending smoke down the Stillaguamish River valley.
If you want to know WHY the clearing we pinned our hopes on failed to launch, head to the WA Smoke blog, where our forecaster has an interesting (if depressing) explanation - https://t.co/h40a7oHjGh. Short version - little ventilation on the coast.— WA Department of Ecology 😷 (@EcologyWA) September 14, 2020
The NASA smoke model not painting a pretty picture for the next 5 days in the Pacific NW. Also notice how the eastbound smoke gets wrapped up in Paulette later in the week. #idwx #orwx pic.twitter.com/aLL3tZFA87— NWS Boise (@NWSBoise) September 14, 2020
Early morning air quality readings. Most places very unhealthy or hazardous. Not posting latest smoke model run with model underestimating current smoke in the region. System offshore weakening today. Lesser chances for showers and lighter winds = little smoke improvement. #wawx pic.twitter.com/1s6OPmozaa— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) September 14, 2020