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ALERT: Air Quality Erodes In Some Communities; May Improve Over Weekend

Photo courtesy Facbook friend Matthew Trowbridge taken in Leavenworth Photo courtesy Facbook friend Matthew Trowbridge taken in Leavenworth
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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Continuing wildfire smoke has driven air quality into the "hazardous" and "very unhealthy" ranges in several Central Washington communities, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

This morning (Friday, Sept. 28, 2012), a newly relocated air monitor showed air quality was "hazardous" in Liberty. Air also was "hazardous" in Cashmere, and "very unhealthy" in Wenatchee and Trout Lake. Entiat experienced "unhealthy" air; Pateros and Quincy were in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range.

Air quality in most locations across Eastern Washington registered as "moderate" to "unhealthy for sensitive groups." Only Colville, Wellpinit and Dayton are experiencing "good" air quality.

Many communities are experiencing a pattern – smoke clears in the mid- to late afternoon so air quality improves, then smoke builds up again overnight and air quality deteriorates.

Today's forecast calls for winds to increase this evening as a weakening cold front moves into Eastern Washington. Weekend winds are expected to move smoke out of the region.

However, said Ecology forecaster Clint Bowman, "there is no precipitation in the forecast sufficient to affect the wildfires, and smoke will continue to be an air quality problem into next week as the surface winds subside."

The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert for all of Eastern Washington: http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=otx&wwa=air%20quality%20alert

Gov. Chris Gregoire has banned all outdoor burning in Eastern Washington through midnight Sunday. The ban does not apply to tribal lands where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.

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