Smoke over Washington State

The wildfires have really been bad this year — some of the worst on record. Dozens of people have been killed, and many have lost their homes or have been temporarily displaced. I’ve even heard of whole towns that have been mostly destroyed by fire.

Although the biggest fires are in California, they’ve occurred all over the west, including Washington State. Normally we don’t see much smoke from these fires because the wind usually sends it eastward.

But last week, the wind pattern was forcing the smoke northward toward us, and even westward into the Pacific Ocean. The featured photo shows this in a dramatic satellite image.

As a result, our air quality index was around 200 (very unhealthy) for several days and we were advised to stay indoors. This was difficult for a few reasons. Normally, the outside air is better than the indoor air so there’s just wasn’t anywhere to go for fresh air. And since walking outdoors has been our primary means of excercise, we had to go without that, although I continued to take Elmo for walks. Fortunately, the smoke didn’t seem to affect me as much as it affects other people.

I also rely on walks to clear my head in a mental and emotional sense (I’ve always loved walks and/or riding a bicycle), so it was hard to not have that option. In fact, everyone has felt anxiety about being forced to stay inside. This, on top of Covid 19, have caused everyone to be more isolated than ever — not a healthy way to live.

Fortunately, it rained yesterday, and the air suddenly got better – in fact the air quality index dropped to below 10.

So we were able to resume our normal routines, and life is good again — at least until the next crisis.

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