Jennifer Wendell of the United States Postal Service walks her rounds on South Ennis Street in Port Angeles on Monday morning with a for breathing amid the smoky air. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Jennifer Wendell of the United States Postal Service walks her rounds on South Ennis Street in Port Angeles on Monday morning with a for breathing amid the smoky air. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Pollution index soars as wildfire smoke sinks south

Meteorologists point to coming winds to blow away the gray

PORT ANGELES — Smoky conditions in Port Angeles and Port Townsend were as bad Monday as they’ve been since windblown wildfire haze from British Columbia began affecting the North Olympic Peninsula’s air last week.

In the see-saw world of air-quality indexes as measured by the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, the rating registered a worst-case “hazardous” by 4:30 p.m. Monday for both cities.

By 5:30 p.m. the air-quality index for Port Angeles had improved to “very unhealthy” while Port Townsend remained hazardous.

“The winds are blowing from B.C. down, and because of where Port Angeles and Port Townsend are located, you are getting the worse of it,” ORCAA Executive Director Fran McNair said Monday afternoon.

That compares to the “moderate” rating in Port Angeles and the even better “good” rating in Port Townsend midday Sunday, little more than 24 hours earlier.

“It’s not healthy to be outdoors doing activities at this point,” McNair said.

“It is hazardous to your health.”

To figure out the finer points of what you should or shouldn’t do according to ORCAA’s shifting air-quality ratings at tinyurl.com/PDN-Quality, McNair urged residents to call their county health departments.

Clallam County Health and Human Services is at 360-417-2303.

Jefferson County Public Health is at 360-385-9400.

“If you have an air conditioning system, use it,” McNair advised.

At 5:10 p.m. Monday, while Port Angeles was above the hazardous threshold of 300, at 308, and Port Townsend was close behind, at 303, Cheeka Peak on the Makah Tribe’s reservation was 319.

Neah Bay, though, right by the water, had “moderate” air quality, of between 51 and 100, McNair said.

“The hope is that it will start to clear out Wednesday or Thursday,” she said.

“The assumption is that winds will come in from the Pacific.”

McNair said ORCAA officials will consult with the National Weather Service on Wednesday on an outlook.

British Columbia officials have said smoke that was virtually shrouding the entire province Saturday could remain an issue through Wednesday, according to news reports.

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

A vessel slips into Port Townsend Boat Haven on Monday afternoon, the area cloaked in a shroud of smoke from wildfires in the region. Jefferson County Environmental Health Director Stuart Whitford said the air quality has deteriorated into the“unhealthy for everyone” range and that people should limit their time outdoors, avoid strenuous activities and choose light indoor activities. He said the smoke may not dissipate until Thursday. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

A vessel slips into Port Townsend Boat Haven on Monday afternoon, the area cloaked in a shroud of smoke from wildfires in the region. Jefferson County Environmental Health Director Stuart Whitford said the air quality has deteriorated into the“unhealthy for everyone” range and that people should limit their time outdoors, avoid strenuous activities and choose light indoor activities. He said the smoke may not dissipate until Thursday. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

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