Blanket of stagnant air expected

The Associated Press and Peninsula Daily News

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SEATTLE — A high-pressure ridge over the Northwest is likely to leave a blanket of stagnant air over the state until next week, leading to more burn bans and possible problems for people who already have trouble breathing, including those on the North Olympic Peninsula, officials said.

The National Weather Service was expected to issue an air-stagnation advisory Tuesday for most of the interior of Western Washington to go along with one already in effect east of the Cascades, said meteorologist Jay Albrecht.

The air stagnation was expected to worsen by today.

“It’s a pretty strong ridge aloft” with warm air trapping colder air close to the ground in the inversion pattern typically responsible for smog building up on cold, dry winter days, Albrecht said.

“The sun is not really strong enough this time of year to break the inversion,” he added.

“Down in the valleys here, it can get pretty murky.”

Until the pattern changes, vehicle exhaust and wood smoke hang around in the air.

Some of the 10 regional clean-air agencies in Washington already have issued burn bans covering King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Clark and Yakima counties.

ORCAA and Peninsula

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, or ORCAA, has yet to issue a burn ban in Jefferson County but has issued an “air-stagnation advisory” for Clallam County.

However, ORCAA officials are asking Clallam and Jefferson counties’ residents to curtail all outdoor burning and to voluntarily refrain from using wood stoves and fireplaces unless absolutely necessary.

ORCAA spokesman Dan Nelson said Tuesday that voluntary reductions in indoor wood stove and fireplaces burning and legal outdoor burning could help prevent mandatory burn bans in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Ecology burn ban

The state Department of Ecology issued a burn ban Tuesday for Kittitas, Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties.

Pollution in some places has reached unhealthy levels at times for sensitive groups — people with breathing issues or illness, the elderly and young children, said Kimberley Kline, spokeswoman for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency inspectors drive around looking for smoke coming out of chimneys, Kline said. People who want to complain about their neighbors’ smoke can report them on the agency’s website.

Inspectors photograph the smoke and review it before mailing a violation notice to the home.

They aren’t looking for confrontations or trying to make money for the agency, Kline said.

“We’re looking to start a conversation and begin an education,” she said.

The agency had more than 100 observation reports in an earlier ban over New Year’s, she said. This inversion could last longer.

“Air quality the next few days is going to be a concern, so those who are sensitive should take precautions,” Kline said.

“Those who like to have fires, please refrain until the pollution clears and we can all breathe easier again.”

Last modified: January 15. 2013 5:52PM
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