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Air quality problem returns under quiet skies

Wed., Nov. 9, 2011, 7:28 a.m.

Air pollution is easily visible in smoke-tinged skies over Spokane this morning. (Mike Prager)
Air pollution is easily visible in smoke-tinged skies over Spokane this morning. (Mike Prager)

Air quality in Spokane deteriorated overnight with moderate pollution being reported by Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

Stable weather conditions allowed a temperature inversion to form, trapping wood smoke from stoves and fireplaces across the city.

National Weather Service forecasters have been warning this week that higher air pressure today through Friday morning could aggravate pollution problems.

The air quality index in Spokane stood at 73 this morning, midway into the moderately polluted category. Slightly lower levels of 57 were reported in Spokane Valley and 59 in Liberty Lake.

On Monday, when a full burning ban was ordered, the index stood at 88 in Spokane. The good range is from zero to 50. On Tuesday, the air quality had improved to good as a result of the ban. Officials on Tuesday then lifted the ban.

Forecasters are calling for mostly cloudy skies today, although sun is showing through those clouds during the early hours for a fairly pleasant morning despite the pollution haze. A high of 50 is expected this afternoon with a low tonight near freezing.

Mostly sunny weather is expected Thursday with a high near 50.

Rain is possible after 4 p.m. on Friday and into the weekend when the chance of snow mixed with rain arrives on Friday night.

Accumulations of up to 2 to 4 inches are possible in the mountains. Snow levels will be at 2,500 to 3,000 feet on Friday night. Elevations in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas range from about 1,900 to 2,300 feet.

Snow is possible on Saturday night as a cold front brings a drop in temperatures. However, decreasing precipitation in the wake of the front will only allow for minor accumulations in valley locations. The low Saturday night should be about 30.

A chance of rain or snow is seen on Sunday.

At 7 a.m. today, it was 32 in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

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