A red flag warning has been issued by the National Weather Service in Spokane, the Palouse and most of Columbia Basin as thunderstorms and showers bring a high fire danger to the area.
The warning is scheduled to expire at 11 tonight.
With the cold front passage on Friday, most of the smoke should clear out across the region, said National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Van Horn. Local fires may still produce smoke in Spokane through the weekend.
Two waves of showers are possible Thursday afternoon and evening with the strongest possibility of thunderstorms in Spokane in the evening, Van Horn said.
Air quality worsened slightly Thursday afternoon in Spokane and was listed in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
Most of Eastern Washington is in an exceptional drought, the most severe category of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A new analysis of drought conditions released Thursday shows 38% of Washington in an exceptional drought. That’s four percentage points higher than a week earlier. Exceptional drought conditions are growing in Idaho, too. Most of the Panhandle is listed in the exceptional drought category.
All of Idaho and Washington is listed in a drought.