Olympic Nat’l Park wildfires creating localized smoke problems

Screenshot image of inciweb.nwcg.gov website, showing map of Olympic National Park.

While much of the Pacific Northwest finally sees light at the end of the smoky tunnel, the residents of the Elwha River in Clallam County have been dealt an unseasonal surprise.

Smoke from a handful of fires in the heart of Olympic National Park drifted down valley this morning, creating elevated levels of fine Particulate Matter pollution (PM2.5) in the lower valley. The smoke from the fires – which started during a lightning storm on August 28 – has largely been confined to the wilderness area around the fires. But a south wind overnight pushed the smoke plume down the Elwha River Valley and caused several personal air monitors to record PM2.5 levels in the Moderate and even some in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range.

A shift back to northerly winds have pushed the smoke back toward the mountains, though it’s also funneled south down the Quinault Valley.

Weather models predict the winds to become light and variable on Friday, so the smoke is expected to dissipate during the warm sunny day before rainy weather hits on the weekend. There may continue to be small pockets of localized smoke all around the Olympic range until these fires are fully extinguished later this fall.

For more discussion of wildfire smoke in Washington visit Washington Smoke Information (wasmoke.blogspot.com). To learn more about the fires currently burning in Olympic National Park, visit Olympic National Park Lightning Fires – | InciWeb (nwcg.gov).


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Dan Nelson

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