Air quality alert extended to noon today

PORT ANGELES — The National Weather Service extended an air quality alert for wildfire smoke from 5 p.m. Wednesday to about noon today for Clallam, Jefferson and other counties in Western Washington.

But complete relief for the North Olympic Peninsula might not arrive until this weekend.

“I think this thing is going to be kind of slow,” Johnny Berg, National Weather Service meteorologist, said Wednesday afternoon.

“It may not be until this weekend that the air is totally cleaned out.”

Wind speeds at Race Rocks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca were 21 mph at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 13 mph in Port Angeles and 6 mph in Port Townsend.

Berg said a cloud of smoke from fires in British Columbia hung over the Pacific Ocean that, combined with smoke from the Maple Fire south of Clallam and Jefferson counties, might slow down the onset of cleaner air.

The alert was issued by the state Department of Ecology and the Northwest, Puget Sound, Southwest and Olympic Region clean air agencies.

“Winds will shift to an onshore, westerly direction later [Wednesday] afternoon,” according to the air quality alert notice issued by the Weather Service.

“There is a large amount of smoke that will then be pushed through the region.

“Westerly winds will continue Thursday and gradually bring improved air quality through the day on Thursday,” it said.

“Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky.”

Port Angeles’ and Port Townsend’s air quality both were “unhealthy” at 4 p.m. Wednesday and a few points away from a better, 100-150 reading of “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

Port Townsend was graded at 156 and Port Angeles at 154. The major pollution in the smoke is PM 2.5 — tiny particles that can get into lungs.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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