5 days of cleaner air — and even a chance of rain — on the way, meteorologists say

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Photo: Chris Anderson

SEATTLE -- Poor air quality from wildfire smoke that's forced even healthy adults indoors in the Seattle area is expected to ease up later Wednesday, though officials warn that some of the hazy conditions may still appear into Thursday.

The National Weather Service's air quality alert from the San Juan Islands to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains has been extended through noon Thursday.

The service shared this map that showed the wildfires in British Columbia and Washington state that were impacting air quality across the region.

NWS Seattle

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency cited the unhealthy air quality to urge people indoors, including healthy adults and those with sensitive health considerations such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with heart or lung problems.

A large-scale weather pattern shift will bring cleaner air for the region but that may not happen until late Wednesday night, so smoke may still be visible Thursday.

Q13 News Meteorologist Katie Boer said the forecast calls for a major cooldown to the low 70s by Thursday -- and even cooler with a chance of showers by Sunday.

Katie said we can expect about five days with improved air quality, but smoke will likely return as wildfires continue to burn into fall.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems, according to health officials:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Stinging eyes
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Asthma attack
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat

Western Washington authorities released another joint air quality alert Wednesday asking everyone to take precautions, especially children, older adults, and people who are pregnant, have heart or lung issue or have had a stroke:

  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Limit your physical activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, and sports.
    N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. Medical masks or standard dust masks do not provide the necessary level of protection. N95 or N100 rated masks are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.
  • Close windows in your home, if possible, and keep the indoor air clean. If you have an air conditioner, use the “recirculation” switch. Use an indoor air filter if available.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, consider finding a public place with clean, air-conditioned indoor air like a public library or a community center.
  • Avoid driving, when possible. If you must drive, keep the windows closed. If you use the car’s fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the car; don’t pull air from outside.
  • Schools and daycare providers should consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them indoors.
  • For more information on ways to reduce your exposure, see the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Fire tips.
  • To learn more about wildfire smoke, and to subscribe to updates, visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.

A stage 1 burn ban continues for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties:

  • No outdoor burning during a Stage 1 air quality burn ban including:
  • No charcoal barbeques or similar solid fuel devices
  • No campfires or bonfires
  • No fire pits, chimineas, fire bowls, or similar free-standing devices
  • No fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves, or uncertified inserts*
  • No agricultural fires (as described in the agricultural burn permit)
  • Local fire districts do not grant Native American ceremonial fire permits outside of tribal lands during air quality burn bans.
  • It is OK to use natural gas and propane grills, stoves, or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
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