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After morning smoke draws city back into ‘Unhealthy’ category, conditions improve Sunday afternoon

August 26, 2018

After a morning that saw air conditions in the “Unhealthy” range, conditions have cleared steadily over the course of Sunday afternoon, dropping into the “Moderate” range by 2:45 p.m.

After a day of respite from wildfire smoke, Spokane’s air moved back into unhealthy ranges Sunday morning.

By midday, two of the Spokane Clean Air Agency’s air monitors in northwest Spokane and Colbert had an air quality index in the “Unhealthy” category. Monitors downtown and in Spokane Valley read “Unhealthy for Some Groups.”

Two hours later, however, that agency’s rating had fallen to 92 – solidly in the moderate category.

The National Weather Service Spokane office said smoke from fires in the Cascades and British Columbia was mostly to blame for Sunday morning’s air, as wind continued to push in from the northwest.

But with rain in the forecast this week, the region could soon see a longer-term reprieve.

“We’re pinning the idea that the fires to the west and northwest of us, especially the ones in British Columbia, have got some rainfall coming,” said meteorologist Rocco Pelatti. “It’s just a matter of how much of that gets pushed through the area.”

Pelatti said North Idaho could also see a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of rain Monday afternoon, helping to douse a cluster of wildfires burning in the Coeur d’Alene National forest and further north in the Kootenai National Forest Selkirk Mountains.

Spokane could see as much as a tenth of an inch of rain as well.

“We’re pretty confident North Idaho will see improvement,” said Pelatti. “There’s rainfall coming.”

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