Residents advised to take precautions
By Ann McCreary
A ridge of high pressure over north central Washington is expected to persist through the week, which means that very poor air quality will continue to plague Okanogan County.
Due to smoke from wildfires, air quality throughout the county ranges from “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy,” according to the Washington Department of Ecology. A local air quality monitor at the upper end of Twisp River, near the Crescent Mountain Fire, listed air quality as hazardous on Tuesday morning (Aug. 14).
The airshed in North Central Washington is saturated with smoke particulates that can produce discomfort, especially in more sensitive people including infants and children, the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, or people with pre-existing lung and cardiovascular conditions.
The National Weather Service has issued an Air Quality Alert for all of central and eastern Washington as of Tuesday. Under these conditions, people should limit outdoor activities. Ecology advises staying indoors with windows closed, preferably in an air-conditioned space, and using the recycle or re-circulate setting on air conditioners in vehicles.
Air quality conditions in the Methow Valley are being monitored through a new program called “Clean Air Ambassador Program” launched by the Methow Valley Clean Air Project. Monitors are in place at 10 locations to provide air quality measurement every 80 seconds, which are displayed on a map that can be found online at www.mvcitizens.org/clean-air-ambassador-program.
The monitors are located at the Bush School, Mazama Trailhead, Weeman Bridge, Lower Studhorse, town of Winthrop, Liberty Bell High School, town of Twisp, upper Twisp River, Balky Hill and Benson Creek.
On Tuesday morning air quality in the upper Twisp River drainage was hazardous, and other sites indicated unhealthy or very unhealthy air quality.
A second phase of the program is expected to install sensors at 10 more locations in the valley by the end of August.