Smoke lingers in the air, and on the nerves, of North Olympic Peninsula residents. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Smoke lingers in the air, and on the nerves, of North Olympic Peninsula residents. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Smoke to stick around Peninsula for awhile

PORT ANGELES — Lingering wildfire smoke kept the air quality “unhealthy” in Port Angeles and Port Townsend on Saturday, according to the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency.

A shift to a northerly flow on Monday will bring more smoke to the North Olympic Peninsula before an on-shore push delivers a “little bit of improvement” later in the week, said Danny Mercer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“We don’t expect it to totally clear out,” Mercer said in a Saturday interview.

An air quality alert was in effect for the North Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound area through 5 a.m. Monday.

While the air quality remained on the low end of the “unhealthy” range in Port Angeles and Port Townsend, it was a far cry from the “hazardous” air that blanketed the region last Monday and Tuesday, according to ORCAA’s air quality index.

Most of the smoke from Eastern Washington wildfires that poured into the Puget Sound region early last week had dissipated by Saturday, Mercer said.

The new smoke that permeated the area was coming from the Maple Fire in Mason County southwest of Brinnon, Mercer said.

A shift to northerly winds on Monday and Tuesday could bring more smoke from wildfires burning on Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland, Mercer said.

“That’s a little bit too far off to tell if it’s going to get down to the surface,” Mercer said of the Canadian smoke.

“The tendency this year is that it does.”

Mercer predicted that the air quality would improve with on-shore flow later this week. The extent of the improvement will depend on how much it rains, he said.

The air quality alert will be extended beyond 5 a.m. Monday if forecasters gain more confidence in the outlook, Mercer said.

Health officials advise the public to limit outdoor activities when the air quality is poor.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the air quality in Port Angeles was above the unhealthy threshold of 150 at 166, according to ORCAA’s index.

Port Townsend had slightly cleaner air at 159.

Both cities were well above the hazardous threshold of 300 earlier in the week.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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