Ash falls across Seattle area from fires burning in Central Washington
SEATTLE -- That's not rain or snow falling from the skies around Seattle Tuesday morning --it was ash.
As wildfires continue to rage across the Pacific Northwest, including the Jolly Mountain Fire and Norse Creek Fire buring in Central Washington, several reports came in across the Puget Sound area of light ash falling from the sky, carried into the region via moderate east winds.
In Bellevue, ash was falling at a fast enough rate to require use of windshield wipers:
In Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood, it was enough to turn one red car more of a gray:
"Last time I saw ash fall around Seattle I was 7. May 18th 1980," Art Jenkins wrote on our Facebook page, referencing the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.
"Car had a good coat of ash on it this morning, and we live in Olympia!" writes Sherin Moline . "Can see slight particles floating in the air..."
The Jolly Mountain and Norse Creek fires continue to rage across the Cascades and in Central Washington, prompting evacuations, including Crystal Mountain.
Air Quality was in the moderate range early Tuesday morning but was expected to degrade through the day.
Can the ash ignite new fires?
Fire weather forecasters with the National Weather Service say hot embers can only be carried about two miles from the source of the fire. However, ash can carry several miles, as we've seen Tuesday.
A Very Warm Night
The fires and their smoke is also causing some other oddities around Western Washington. Coming off Monday's 88-degree day in Seattle, the thick smoke has held the heat in overnight to where overnight temperatures barely dropped below 70 degrees. Seattle had only dropped to 69 degrees at 6 a.m. making it one of the warmer nights on record.
It's also making for a very spooky-looking full moon:
Smoky Skies Here To Stay Through Wednesday
Unfortunately, the smoke and ash are not going anywhere soon. Moderately strong easterly winds are expected to blow through Tuesday and into late Wednesday evening, which will continue to blow smoke and ash into Western Washington. Thus, Tuesday is shaping up to be another very hot and smoky day with temperatures zooming up toward 90 -- a number inhibited by the smoke. Without the fires, Seattle was expected to reach the mid-upper 90s.
However, there is relief in sight -- westerly ocean breezes are expected to return late Wednesday, which will begin to blow the smoke back toward the east and clean the air. By Thursday and Friday, we're even seeing a chance of scattered showers in the forecast that should further clean the air.