Air Quality Index values return to unhealthy levels for the Yakima Valley

An Air Quality Alert is in place Tuesday morning for Yakima and surrounding towns impacted by wildfire smoke.
Air Quality

YAKIMA, Wash. — Air quality in Yakima went from “good” to “unhealthy” Tuesday morning as the Schneider Springs Fire continues to burn to the west. The fire has now consumed 94,206 Acres and is sitting at 14% containment.

Air Quality

“The Northwest is currently sitting under a dome of high pressure,” said KAPP KVEW Chief Meteorologist Briana Bermensolo. “This is allowing for warmer than normal temperatures for firefighters to contend with this week, along with stagnant air in place to trap any new wildfire smoke.”

The First Alert Weather Team says light westerly winds brought the smoke quickly back into the Yakima Valley early Tuesday morning from the Schneider Springs Fire.

Smoke

An Air Quality Alert is in place until Thursday at noon for Yakima and surrounding towns impacted by wildfire smoke.

The smoke created a spectactular sunrise Tuesday before shadowing the blue skies with haze later during the mid-morning hours:

Bermensolo said a shift in the wind direction may improve air quality for some of the afternoon/evening hours.

However, KAPP-KVEW’s meteorologists will keep an eye on the area, as a decrease in winds or a lack of change in wind direction will only trap today’s smoke for the remainder of the day.

The Yakima Health District recommends staying indoors and limit outdoor activities when the air quality index (WAQA) range of 151 to 200. As of 10AM Tuesday, Toppenish and Yakima sensors indicated an air quality index range of 175-310, which is considered to be unhealthy to very unhealthy air to breathe.

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If you live in Washington, you can check your air quality here.

RELATED: Schneider Springs Fire scorced more than 84,500 acres in one month, 10% contained

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke? Among the Environmental Protection Agency’s suggestions to prepare for fire season:

  • Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC Filter
    See Indoor Air Filtration and EPA’s Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home
  • Consider purchasing N95 respirator masks
    See Protect Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke or Ash and this infographic
  • Know how to adjust your HVAC system or air conditioner to keep smoke out
    • If it has a fresh air intake, find out how to close it or us recirculate mode
    • If you have an evaporative cooler, avoid using it in smoky condition
    • If you have a window a/c unit, find out how to close the outdoor air damper
    • If you have portable a/c with a hose vented out the window, do not use it in smoky conditions