Summer in the Pacific Northwest Is a Smoky, Hazy Mess Right Now

Better get used to it.

Thick smoke rises from the Maple Fire, obscuring the Olympic Mountains on August 8, 2018.Paul Christian Gordon/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Firefighters are continuing to tackle huge blazes across British Columbia and the American West—as of Friday, 16 large fires and many more small fires were burning across Washington and Oregon. Heavy smoke blankets cities from Oregon to Colorado, and in Seattle, authorities have advised even healthy adults to stay indoors. Schools and sports teams have been urged to postpone outdoor activities, and flights have been delayed across the Pacific Northwest.

Portland Public Schools suspended all outdoor sports practices Monday, while in Seattle residents reported waking to a blood-red sun. Thick smoke in Denver also prompted air quality warnings, while air quality dropped from “very unhealthy” to “hazardous” in Spokane.

After two consecutive years of severe smoke in the Pacific Northwest, experts warn that smoky summers could continue in the American West, as climate conditions lead to larger and more destructive wildfires

Here are some images and reactions from residents in the region:

Last year, researchers from Colorado State University and the University of Houston found that wildfires may be responsible for thousands of deaths annually due to the tiny pollution particles, known as PM2.5, that the fires release into the atmosphere. Jeffrey Pierce, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, estimated that between 5,000 and 25,000 people in the United States may currently die each year from PM2.5 caused by wildfires in the US and Canada. Children, seniors, and those with heart or lung diseases are especially at risk for the coughing, headaches, shortness of breath, and chest pain brought on by inhaling contaminated air.

Public health experts advise this group and others to protect themselves from wildfire smoke as they would from other air pollutants: by keeping windows and doors closed, running air conditioners, and not relying on paper dust masks, which have been proven insufficient, for protection.

https://twitter.com/Josh_Kampa/status/1031365757857218560

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate