SPOKANE, Wash. – The combination of wind, dust and smoke made for a brown haze that settled in over the Spokane area Monday. At peak times, the air quality level was recorded was unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, seniors, and anyone with asthma or other respiratory problems.
"I saw what probably a lot of people saw when they looked outside yesterday, it was not pretty," said Lisa Woodard with the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. "We were getting hit by that wildfire smoke. It smelled terrible, it looked terrible, and our air quality data was not good."
The agency has 10 monitoring stations throughout the Spokane area, including on its own roof where data is collected hour-by-hour. At peak levels Monday, 32 micrograms of particulate was recorded. The maximum for the 24-hour healthy levels regulated under the Clean Air Act is 35 micrograms.
"It smelled like someone had a huge bonfire down the street, and I initially thought that when I walked out of the house," said Susannah Wessel of Spokane, referring to the smoky haze in the air. "But I thought no, this is way more than that, so it was definitely an experience."
The haze made it hard to breathe for a lot of people, and several people on KHQ's Facebook page reported their asthma kicking up, as well as irritated throats and eyes.
"I normally wear contact lenses, and I can't wear them, they're too dried out," Vicky Connor told KHQ. "We live up on Browne Mountain, and so you can just see the whole valley was just covered in a haze of smoke, it looked like fog it was so dense."
One retirement center also reported having to cancel an outing along Centennial Trail Monday to help protect the health of its residents.
The good news is the winds have shifted, and the smoke has begun to clear out. By Tuesday afternoon, our air quality levels were listed back down hovering between the good & moderate categories per http://www.spokanecleanair.org/.