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Kittitas County residents tired of being cloaked in smoke may be able to look forward to a respite from the current conditions, but they will most likely have to wait until closer to the weekend to see any tangible changes.

Unsurprisingly to anyone in the region, the air quality is currently at hazardous levels. The Washington Department of Ecology shows both testing sites in Kittitas County to be at levels well-above hazardous as of Tuesday morning, with Cle Elum clocking in at 321 on the Washington Air Quality Advisory Index, and Ellensburg coming in at 332. The threshold for the hazardous category begins at 300.

Under the hazardous advisory, the department encourages everyone to stay indoors, avoid all strenuous activity and close windows and doors. If air conditioning is used, residents are encouraged to set the machine to recirculate air already within the home in an effort to prevent smoke from entering the household, and to use a HEPA air filter if possible.

In addition to those recommendations, the department encourages people with heart or lung disease and those who have suffered from a stroke to consult with their health care provider about leaving the area and to wear a properly-fitted respiratory mask if they must go outdoors. Those who experience serious symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeat should seek immediate medical attention.


National Weather Service Pendleton Meteorologist Roger Cloutier said Kittitas County is currently experiencing visibility conditions of approximately one mile with hazy conditions.

Although the region remains under an air quality alert until Friday, he said the dense smoke advisory has been lifted because visibility conditions have improved.

Cloutier said a weak weather front will be drifting toward the county from the North Cascades Tuesday afternoon, which will be short-lived and is not expected to produce much in the way of precipitation in the Kittitas Valley.

“We do have a slight chance (of precipitation) in the Cascades, but it’s still going to be pretty smokey today,” he said.

Cloutier said the region will have a chance of precipitation again beginning Wednesday night and continuing into Thursday with a chance of thunderstorms Thursday evening. He said conditions going into the weekend will become breezy and continue to be on the cooler side of temperatures, helping the possibility of moving out the remaining haze and improving air quality.

“Any instability will help to clear up the smoke,” he said. “Thursday and Friday, it looks like things are really going to improve.”


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