The summer of 2017 will be remembered as one of the smokiest in memory for many residents of the Inland Northwest. So far this summer, our region has had three main smoke events.
Event 1: August 1st-13th — Smoke from British Columbia.
In early August, large wildfire complexes in British Columbia were the primary source of smoke for Washington and north Idaho. Several days of north winds pushed wildfire smoke from Canada into the Inland Northwest. By Aug 3-4, much of the Inland Northwest was shrouded in wildfire smoke. This smoke would linger through the weekend of Aug 12-13 when a cold front finally pushed the smoke out of our region.
Event 2: August 22nd – 30th — Smoke from Oregon.
In late August, the Inland Northwest received smoke from a different source region. This time large fires in southwest and west central Oregon produced a thick layer of mid and high level smoke that periodically moved across Washington and north Idaho. During this nine-day event, smoke largely remained aloft, but there were periods when places like Lewiston, Pullman, and Spokane experienced visibility reductions to 5 miles or less.
Event 3: Sep 4th – 8th – Smoke from Montana + Washington Cascades + Oregon
Our ongoing smoke event has been the worst so far this summer. The arrival of a cold front on Labor Day (Sep 4th) imported thick ground level smoke from Montana into our region. In addition to the thick low level Montana smoke, fires in the Washington Cascades and Oregon added a good deal of mid and high level smoke over the Pacific northwest.
With widespread visibility of 2 miles or less in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho…our ongoing smoke event is the worst so far. It will likely be late Thursday or Friday before “cleaner” west winds push smoke out of the Pacific Northwest.
Tomorrow evening, we will compare our ongoing smoke event (Sep 4th – 8th) to the Spokane “Smoke Storm of August 2015” and Wenatchee’s “September of Smoke in 2012”.