Spokane air quality reaches ‘hazardous’ range

Air quality in Washington State ranges from moderate to hazardous, with the worst conditions in the center of the state. (AirNow)
Matt Jackson makes his way east on Cataldo Avenue, Sunday, Aug, 19, 2018 near downtown Spokane. Jackson started the day intending to take a long bicycle ride but had to go to REI to purchase a bandana to cover his face for the ride home as smoke blanketed the region. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The U.S Pavilion and Clock Tower, are shrouded in the heavy smoke blanketing the region, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 in downtown Spokane, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Air quality in Spokane has tipped into the “hazardous” range, and regional air quality monitors caution anyone, regardless of health, from exerting themselves outdoors.

The air quality index stood at 307 as of Sunday evening, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. The maroon-colored rating means that all people, regardless of physical condition or age, will likely be affected.

It’s the worst air quality level Spokane has reached this year.

The smoke could clear by midweek thanks to cooler temperatures and cleaner west winds, according to a National Weather Service report Sunday.

But until then, hazy conditions are expected to continue through the early part of next week, according to a KHQ weather report, and fire alerts will be active due to gusting winds of up to 40 mph.

Cooler temperatures are expected for Monday, reaching into the 80s Tuesday and Wednesday before falling again later in the week.

The haze caused Gonzaga and Eastern Washington universities to cancel soccer matches Sunday. Gonzaga was set to play California State University, Bakersfield at Luger Field at noon. There will be no makeup date for the match, according to Gonzaga’s website. Eastern Washington women’s soccer rescheduled a match with Seattle University for Monday at 1 p.m. at Championship Field in Seattle.

National air monitoring group AirNow released a map Sunday showing conditions in Washington and, directly north of the border, in Canada to be the worst on the North American continent. Conditions in central Washington were particularly bad.

The Tuxedo Junction concert, scheduled to take place at the Arbor Crest Wine Cellars on Sunday, had been canceled due to the air quality, event organizers said.

“We appreciate your understanding and support, and we especially appreciate the firefighting communities out there!” the business said in a news release.

The hazardous level was seen in Chelan County last week, which prompted officials to distribute masks.

Last year saw several days of hazardous air quality in September, with Spokane pinned between wildfires to the north, south and east.