Daily Archives: September 14, 2012

Why all the smoke?

A firefighter sprays flames of a brush fire. Two brush fires closed Highway 3 Thursday afternoon. JOSH FARLEY / KITSAP SUN (Read more here)

**The Kitsap County Fire Marshal has just announced that a Phase 2 burn ban will go into effect Saturday, meaning ALL outdoor burning is prohibited, even recreational fires and camp fires.** (via facebook.com/KitsapNews)

Good afternoon fellow Kitsapers! Kitsaponians? Kitsapites?

It certainly has been a busy couple of days, especially with the breezy, dry and warm weather we’ve been experiencing. Unfortunately, this is a perfect set up for ongoing threats of wild or brush fires, something I’m sure many of us didn’t even think possible a couple months ago. I am also grateful to hear the Bremerton Airport fire along Highway 3 was contained! It isn’t very common we here of fires on this side of the water.

A Forecasting Kitsap blog reader e-mailed in this morning asking about the thick and persistent nature of the smoke. Is it true we’re choking on smoke burning in Wenatchee? And what effect is that having on the air quality? Let’s take a few moments to analyze these questions. I’ll quote part of the explanation I sent out in an e-mail earlier today:

There are a few different reasons why we could be experiencing such severe smoke in the Kitsap area. First, for the past couple days the winds have been coming from the NNE, as evidenced from the airport records:

Although the wind speed was never too strong, it doesn’t take much for smoke to rise, get caught in the jet stream and travel. The wind direction you see above is actually a perfect set up for the smoke to filter into our area because at the same time, the winds in the Wenatchee area were coming from the E/SE, as evidenced from their weather station:

This propelled the smoke north while our northerly winds helped slide it down into our area as well as the Seattle area. Notice how the winds eventually shifted to the W/NW, thus ending our threat or theirs for more major smoke. But then a new wrinkle emerged. Two brush fires near Bremerton Airport on Highway 3 broke out, which took firefighters 10 hours to battle. As this battle with the fires went on, winds went from blowing northerly to strictly calm. This allowed the smoke to filter over the peninsula instead of being pushed further south.

And, as we speak, or at least as of 2:30 this afternoon, winds are again coming from the ENE (click here for the NWS Bremerton Airport weather info) and fires continue to burn in Central Washington, so expect more episodes of wandering plumes of smoke for at least the next day or two.

This now leads to air quality. It’s been a little while since we had substantial rain, so where are we sitting? Feel free to visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency by clicking here. The current forecast is for moderate air quality today, stabilizing tomorrow as we switch to onshore flow which means we’ll be in the “good air quality” range. Places along the cascade foothills, however, are still in the “unhealthy” zone.

The seven day forecast still looks dry and mild as ever! Currently we’re only running about +.2-+.4 degrees above average, which isn’t much at all. It probably feels a lot warmer than what the numbers are saying, but so far it looks like it’s been a pretty average first half of September! Latest projects show periods of very warm weather with sunny skies for the next 7-10 days. In fact, we could see yet another return to the 80s around the latter part of next week.

You heard it here first! An Indian Summer is definitely looking likely 🙂

Have a marvelous weekend everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments! Send them my way at forecastingkitsap@live.com