How bad has our air quality been? Among the worst in the world


Smoke, haze, smog, whatever you want to call it it’s been bad across the Pacific Northwest since Labor Day.

How bad is our air?

It’s worse than in Beijing or Shanghai, China, both notorious for filthy air quality.

On Tuesday, the Wenatchee Valley’s Air Quality Index was hovering between 150 and 180, which is in the “unhealthy” range and landed us among the places with the worst air quality in the world.

Last Saturday and again on Monday, our air quality index was hovering around 450, or hazardous, making it unhealthy for anybody to be outside.

Even though more than a dozen wildfires continued to burn in Washington on both sides of the Cascade Mountains as of Wednesday morning, the smoky air is almost entirely coming from wildfires burning in Oregon and California.  

As that smoke drifted north, winds in Washington switched to the west/southwest which provided a virtual smoke highway into our state.

Contained in that smoke are things like small particles, wator vapor and gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and irritant organic compounds.

The good news is the persistent area of low pressure that’s been providing that southwest air flow will move inland by Friday which will switch our wind direction more to the north/northwest which should scour out most of the smoke and haze by the afternoon.

Also on Friday, we will see anywhere from a 40 percent to 50percent chance of showers which will not only bring us some much needed moisture but will also snuff out fires and tamp down all of that bad air.

So, keep your fingers crossed that the same weather system that brought us all the smoke will be the same system that drives it away this weekend.