Department of Ecology News Release - October 1, 2012

12-329

Approaching winds bring good and bad news

SPOKANE - While today, Monday Oct. 1, 2012, started relatively calmly, moderate winds are entering the scene ahead of a cold front later today, both clearing the air and potentially spreading wildfires.

According to Washington Department of Ecology air quality forecaster Ranil Dhammapala, a strong cold front dropping into Eastern Washington this evening will herald a shift to cooler weather through the rest of this week.

 “The cat among the pigeons, however, is the risk of a rapid spread of fire along the east slopes of the Cascades due to strong winds and low relative humidity,” Dhammapala said. “Additionally, blowing dust across the Columbia Basin on Tuesday could restrict visibility and cause travel headaches.”

Unfortunately, for those who are still suffering through smoky days and nights, the approaching front appears to carry no precipitation except possibly tonight in the North Cascades and far northeastern parts of the state.

Cashmere and Wenatchee are reporting “very unhealthy” air this morning. Ellensburg and Trout Lake are reporting “unhealthy” air, but are expected to worsen throughout the day. Entiat and Maple Falls are reporting “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

Sites in the western Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley are reporting “moderate” air as are Kennewick, Mesa and Moses Lake. All other sites statewide have relatively clear skies.

Cool air will continue to flow into Eastern Washington from the north on Wednesday but winds should relax. Another frontal system is expected by Thursday, but it too carries little or no precipitation.

The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert for all of eastern Washington through noon today.

Gov. Gregoire also has extended a burn ban until midnight Sunday night, Oct. 7.

 ###

Media Contact: Jani Gilbert, Communications, 509-329-3495; cell, 509-990-9177; e-mail jani.gilbert@ecy.wa.gov.

More information: