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Monday, October 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Air quality worsens, but rivers and lakes are still a draw to beat the heat

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 4, 2017, 10:09 p.m.

Sarah Gotzian paddles a stand-up paddleboard down the Spokane River near Argonne Road with her cairn terrier Finn on Friday. Boarders, paddlers, floaters and tubers take to the river when the temperature spikes, but the smoky air may have discouraged some. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Sarah Gotzian paddles a stand-up paddleboard down the Spokane River near Argonne Road with her cairn terrier Finn on Friday. Boarders, paddlers, floaters and tubers take to the river when the temperature spikes, but the smoky air may have discouraged some. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Air quality worsened Friday, but the smoky air didn’t stop people from flocking to rivers and lakes.

A palpable haze had settled over the city by the evening. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency reported pollution registering 174 on the air quality index, a level categorized as “unhealthy” for all.

Fine particulate matter was the cause, and a mix of ozone from the hot weather as well as smoke cloaked the air.

Ozone forms from fuel vapors and exhaust, and can be lessened if people don’t use power equipment or fuel their vehicles when it is hot.

Forecasters said they expected the smoke to hang around well into next week.

Smoke was drifting over the region from British Columbia and Western Montana.

The foul air didn’t stop Sarah Gotzian, 23, from taking an hourlong paddleboard trip on the Spokane River at Millwood with her terrier, Finn.

“I like the hot weather,” said the Seattle accountant.

Gotzian said she grew up along the river and was visiting her parents. “It feels like summer,” she said.

Downriver at Boulder Beach, a family of four found a spot on the sand.

The dad, Cody, said the water is the right place to take children with careful supervision. It’s family fun and it’s free, he said. Plus, the beach is close to home, requiring less fuel to get there.

“It’s a good place,” he said. He declined to give his last name.

At the General Store on North Division, at least 1,200 river-running tubes have been sold this year.

Mary Gatz, who lives on the river at Millwood, said weekends are bringing a flotilla of tubes, boats, kayaks and paddleboards.

The Centennial Trail parking lot above Donkey Island east of Argonne Road was filled to capacity Sunday.

Some weekend relief

The extreme heat should ease up a bit on Saturday and Sunday.

A weather disturbance from Canada is going to stir up some wind and create a high fire risk.

An air quality alert was in effect for all of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Forecasters said there is no end in sight for the ongoing heat wave.

Temperatures will return to the mid-90s on Monday through Friday of next week.

Spokane has gone 37 days without measurable rain. The record is 73 days, set in 1917.

Also, Spokane has had 18 days of highs of 90 degrees or hotter. The average for an entire summer is 19 days. The record was 38 days in 1998.

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