Relief late in the week – maybe

Hazardous air conditions have affected Benewah County and most of the Idaho Panhandle. The National Weather Service said that the smoke may dissipate this weekend after expected rain hits the region.

The National Weather Service of Spokane reported that the smoke that has settled in the Idaho Panhandle may not clear until later this week.

NWS meteorologist, Joey Clevenger, said that the agency had expected winds to blow most of the smoke out of the area Monday.

“We were hoping for a weather system to push through today (9/14) but unfortunately that is not going to happen,” Mr. Clevenger said. “We might see a little wind but nothing to make the air ‘healthy.’”

Mr. Clevenger said that the NWS hopes to see a weather pattern later this week that will bring stronger winds to the area to help clear some of the smoke. The NWS forecasts a 40 percent chance of rain on Friday, September 18 and a 70 percent chance of rain on Saturday, September 19.

He said that the smoke, which is a result of the fires in California, Oregon and Washington, has caused air quality conditions to reach hazardous levels in some areas of the Panhandle.

“The smoke has affected most of the Idaho Panhandle and parts of the Idaho and Washington border,” Mr. Clevenger said. “Wind patterns from the south pushed smoke into our region.”

“Air quality is ranging from not healthy to hazardous,” Mr. Clevenger said.

As of the time of this report, the NWS lists Benewah County’s air quality as hazardous.

The NWS released an advisory warning residents of north Idaho and eastern Washington that the wildfire smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health conditions.

It is advised that residents limit outdoor activities and to keep children indoors.

For more information contact the NWS of Spokane at 509-244-6395.

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