Smoke from Los Angeles-area wildfires makes way into Puget Sound region

Smoky sun rises behind Seattle on Dec. 10, 2017 (Photo: Euvre Photography)

SEATTLE -- Here we go again?

The skies over Seattle were a bit of a hazy orange Saturday evening… reminiscent of the smoky days of this summer when it seemed no matter which way the wind was blowing, there was smoke from a wildfire either to our north, east or south to push into our region.

But as University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass points out, it seems even smoke two states away can still find its way into our region.

As a huge ridge of high pressure along the West Coast brings southerly winds aloft, it has carried the smoke from southern California up the entire West Coast and into the Pacific Northwest.

Mass pointed out you can see it on the raw satellite image:

And he showed a nifty model run showing the smoke coming up here from Southern California:

Just like it did during the summer, the smoke is making for colorful sunrises and sunsets as the smoke scatters the sunlight into deep reds and oranges:

The air quality wasn't all that great in the Puget Sound region Saturday evening, but that is more likely due to the strong inversion that is trapping pollutants near the ground.

With much warmer air aloft and cold air near the ground from nighttime cooling, it creates an invisible lid that doesn't allow our pollutants to disperse. Sure enough, a Stage 1 Burn Ban is in effect for Snohomish and Pierce Counties. Mass says the inversion and stagnant mixing pattern does have a benefit in keeping the smoke from reaching the lower levels.

It looks like the smoke will gradually drift offshore and the haze will clear up a bit as we get into early next week.

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