Where There's Smoke...

Yesterday morning, I went hiking on Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve.  There's an overlook on the North Trail that provides a good view of Deception Pass.  It has become a habit to stop there and take a couple of shots of the bridge.  The haziness of yesterday's image was the result of wildfires burning in British Columbia and the Washington Cascades.  The haze also confused the camera's auto-focus.

Yesterday morning, the problem was just getting started.  Today, the National Weather Service Seattle Office tweeted an image that dramatically illustrates the situation.  Weather conditions are producing an offshore flow.  Air masses are pushing the smoke from the north and east into the Puget Sound Basin and Strait of Juan de Fuca.  This is also delivering hotter than normal temperatures for a double whammy of both heat and smoke.  The air in Anacortes, Washington is tinged with the reeking stench of wood smoke, irritating to eyes, nose and throat.  The sky is partially occluded with an orange-tinged overcast.

This is a photo taken last April from the same spot, free of smoky haze.  The clouds are painted pink by the early morning sun.

We had a similar situation two years ago.  This is Skagit Bay, near Anacortes, just inside Deception Pass.  This time the wildfire smoke was coming from eastern Washington and Oregon.  It was pushed down the Columbia River Gorge, then up through the Puget Sound Basin to reach us in northwest Washington.

Fire is a normal and essential component of forest ecosystems.  It can be both nourishing and cleansing.  It is feared, however, that climate change will make wildfires worse, more frequent and more destructive.  Must we look forward to spending every summer in an orange haze while our great forests go up in smoke?

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