Hard-to-Breathe Spring Haze: Why is It So Smoky in Washington?
Smoky Season Starts Early in the Northwest This Year
I thought our 5th season (smoky) wasn't supposed to start for a few more months.
2023 Brings a Smoky May in Washington State
At first, I thought my allergies had just gotten worse, but then I looked up. Smoke has once again blanketed the northwest but this time months earlier than usual.
I hate the fact that smoke is now an official season in the Northwest. I do remember a time when spring, summer, and fall did not blend together in one hazy season. I noticed it happening early this week, but where is all this early smoke coming from?
Where is the 2023 Northwest Smoke Coming From?
Our "smoky" season started months earlier than normal because of over 150 wildfires burning to the north of us in Canada. Most of the smoke is staying to the east of the Rockey Mountains with Montana and Idaho getting the worst of it. You can see the real-time data yourself at Wa Smoke. The central and eastern sides of Washington are also struggling with smoke however, there is one bright spot to what the smoke pattern is doing.
Air Breathing Quality is Minimally Affected
Most of the smoke pollution is staying above ground and only minimally affects the air-breathing quality of central and eastern Washington State. That means for most of us, the smoke is mostly only visible and should not be affecting the air quality that much. Even though air quality will be minimally affected, if you experience any shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, asthma episodes, or chest pain contact your local health professional or Doctor. You also might experience eye irritation, headaches, fatigue, a dry throat, sinus congestion, dizziness, and nausea.
Tips for Breathing Easier
If you are having trouble breathing during the smokey season, there are a few good things to try to help. Avoid stressful and outdoor activities and try to stay inside in a location with central air conditioning. Also, try to reduce the number of pollutants you can find in your home. Some easy ways to improve the air quality in your home are to check your air filter or purchase an air purifier.
If the air quality outside is especially bad, sometimes the air is drawn in through air draft leaks. We looked for places where smoke was being pulled in, closed winter house crawlspace vents with foam covers, and tried to close any drafts we could feel with towels. We also made a McGeiver air filter by taping a carbon air filter to the front of a box fan when all the air purifiers were sold out in stores.