Heavy Smoke To Linger Through October In Wenatchee Valley
The Wenatchee Valley continues to experience heavy smoke well into October.
Air Quality is reaching the Unhealthy to Hazardous level daily.
Susan Woodard with the Washington Department of Ecology says the current pattern is highly unusual, but not completely unprecedented in Wenatchee.
"In 2012, smoke persisted until the second week in October, although that is the only year since we began monitoring in 2004 that we saw smoke after October 1 in that area."
The weather patterns will change on Monday with a frontal system bringing winds out of the west and north west.
The smoke is expected to clear out briefly by Tuesday before it returns again.
Meteorologist Matthew Dehr with the Department of Natural Resources says the wildfires responsible for the smoke are locked into a cycle.
"We're not seeing big spreads of the fires," said Dehr. "We're not seeing the fires burn out of control. We're just seeing them sitting there and smoldering, and just producing a ton of smoke in very localized areas, primarily along Highway 2."
Dehr says wind patterns are funneling the smoke straight into the Wenatchee Valley while almost all other areas of the state are smoke free.
He said the White River Fire, Irving Peak Fire and the Bolt Creek Fire are all contributing to the buildup of smoke that is draining into the Wenatchee area
Woodward says the change in wind direction will bring short term relief from the smoke locally.
"That should help to disperse the smoke and improve air quality," Woodward said. "Afterwards however, we're not seeing any rain events on the horizon that would dampen these fires, unfortunately."
The current smoky air is highly unusual for October, and experts are linking these conditions to the ongoing dry weather.
Seattle saw its driest July through September on record, and it’s about an inch behind for rainfall in October.
Dehr says the Wenatchee area will be stuck with smoky air for the rest of the month.
"I think the smoke will wane a bit as we head deeper into October," Dehr said. "However, without any wetting rains, really, on the horizon, it is going to linger around, probably into the back half of October. It's a bad situation."
Dehr says the region is just stuck in a very hard to shift weather pattern right now.