Prepare now: Air quality expected to plummet as wildfire smoke blows east into the weekend

click to enlarge Prepare now: Air quality expected to plummet as wildfire smoke blows east into the weekend
Washington officials shared this image of smoke from West Coast wildfires that is likely to blow inland this weekend, causing air quality to decline.

The Spokane Clean Air Agency and Washington Emergency Management Division warned people Thursday that air quality could worsen on Friday as winds shift and blow a massive cloud of smoke from Oregon and California fires east tomorrow.

"Air quality is expected to worsen over the weekend, prompting the Washington State Department of Ecology to issue a statewide Air Quality Alert," says Lisa Woodard, communications & outreach manager for Spokane Clean Air, in a news release. "Air quality in the Spokane area could reach very unhealthy to hazardous Saturday and Sunday."

People should track air quality at the agency's website, and particularly vulnerable people, including those with COVID-19, should prepare, the agency warns.

It's a good idea to pick up any needed medications, food and other necessities and then plan to stay inside as much as possible if the air quality dips into the dangerous ranges.

The state Department of Ecology also created a tutorial on how to attach a furnace filter to a box fan to help filter out some fine particles that could still make it inside your house during a particularly smoky event.

Air quality forecasts can also be found at

According to the clean air agency, those most at risk for health problems from breathing smoke include:
  • Persons with, or recovering from, COVID-19
  • People with lung diseases (asthma, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema)
  • People with respiratory infections
  • People with existing heart or circulatory problems
  • People with a prior history of heart attack or stroke
  • Infants and children under 18
  • Older adults (over age 65)
  • Pregnant women
  • People who smoke
  • People with diabetes

Spokane Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz says it's vital that those in vulnerable groups follow breathing management plans, keep medications on hand, and contact their health provider as needed.

To prevent smoke from entering your home, it's advised to keep doors and windows closed. It's not advised to exercise outdoors when it's smoky, either.

More information can be found on the clean air agency's smoke webpage

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...