August 20, 2009

Heat wave peaks today; wildfires affecting air quality

Highs should stay below century mark here
By The Spokesman-Review
Air quality moderately polluted
Air quality in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas remained moderately polluted today from an influx of diffused wild fire smoke from British Columbia, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

The smoky skies were expected to disperse today as wind direction aloft changes from a northerly to a southeasterly flow. However, ozone pollution levels could increase with hotter temperatures, the agency said.

The air quality index at 7 a.m. was 73 in Spokane and 62 in Coeur d’Alene with smoke and dust particles being the primary pollutants. Both levels are in the moderate range for air pollution. Moderate air quality was reported on Wednesday from small airborne particles.
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Hot August weather in the Inland Northwest today will bring highs into the middle and upper 90s and even the triple digits to the south before some relief arrives on Friday.

The National Weather Service is calling for sun and highs of 96 at Spokane International Airport, 99 in downtown Spokane, 97 in Spokane Valley, 96 in Post Falls and 95 in Coeur d’Alene. The record high in Spokane for today is 100. The high at the airport on Wednesday was 91.

A strong ridge of higher air pressure is bringing the heat, but a weak cold front off the Pacific coast is forecast to swing inland bringing the chance of wind and risky fire conditions in the Wenatchee region of the Cascades later today. A red flag alert was issued for that area.

The weather service has also issued a heat advisory for the lower Columbia Basin and the Walla Walla Valley, where highs could reach 100 degrees or hotter.

On Friday, the influence of a Pacific low pressure system will cause highs to drop several degrees to the lower 90s in the Spokane area. The weekend should see more moderation in temperatures with sunshine and highs in the middle 80s on Saturday and more sun but a few degrees cooler on Sunday. The sunny weather pattern will continue into next week with highs mostly in the 80s.

Forecast models are hinting at a change caused by a low pressure system at the end of next week, forecasters said.

At 7 a.m., temperatures were warm with 66 at the airport, 64 at Coeur d’Alene, 70 at Pullman and 64 at Deer Park. Sandpoint was cooler at 55.

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