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Super-massive' cloud of wildfire smoke headed straight for Washington

- Seattle, WA

After historic wildfires in Oregon and California created surreal, smoky hells scapes shared widely on social media, Washington forecasters are predicting a big dose of smoke for Puget Sound and the rest of the state. The National Weather Service (NWS) said a large blob of smoke from fires in Oregon and California is hanging out of the coast, and pushed inland starting late Thursday into Friday.

“It will probably be the worst Friday night, Saturday morning, but we’ll see some improvement after that,” said Mike McFarland, a meteorologist with the NWS in Seattle.

The National Weather Service shared an image of the cloud moving in Thursday. The Washington Dept. of Ecology predicted the “super-massive” body of smoke will not only impact the southwest corner of the state, but Puget Sound, the Columbia Basin, and as far as Spokane.

By Friday morning, air quality was considered "unhealthy" for King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties in the metro areas. The same goes for Kitsap County and the Olympic peninsula.

Air quality along the coast, around Olympia, and in southwest Washington was "very unhealthy" by 6 a.m. Friday.

“Unhealthy” air can cause problems for even those without conditions that raise their risk, and McFarland said it’s important to take precautions to minimize exposure. Smoke can exacerbate respiratory conditions and even heart issues. Residents are urged to stay indoors when possible and to keep windows shut. 

“I’m an asthmatic, so I’m going to order up another puffer, and later tonight I’ll close my windows and do all the things I did a few years ago when we had bad smoke,” he said.

Back in 2018, several rounds of heavy smoke from wildfires burning in B.C. choked Seattle, blotting out the skyline even just across Elliot Bay. Officials opened smoke shelters to help those with nowhere to escape the smoke, but that practice has not been widely replicated in 2020 because of COVID-19.

By: Michael Crowe of TEGNA SEA KING 5TV

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