It's only mid-May but the skies over North Central Washington are already taking on an ominous murk that usually isn't seen until wildfire season is well underway.

The hazy conditions are being caused by smoke emanating from fires over 500 miles to the northeast in Alberta, Canada.

"There was a cold front that moved through Canada and that's kind of what's stirred and pushed a lot of smoke into the United States, including portions of Central and Eastern Washington," says meteorologist Laurie Nisbet with the National Weather Service Office in Spokane.

The smoke has become thick enough to prompt the Department of Ecology to issue its first air quality alert of the season for the region, including all or portions of Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, and Whitman Counties.

Nisbet says the smoke isn't expected to linger for too long, however.

"It looks like it will drift more into Central Washington for most of today, but then the winds will be shifting and that will be pushing the smoke out of the region later tonight and into Friday."

Ecology's alert began late yesterday (May 17) afternoon and is expected to last through Saturday (May 20) morning.

The air quality index for Chelan and Douglas Counties has been listed as 'Moderate' since the smoke drifted into the region.

More From NewsRadio 560 KPQ