Puget Sound Region Gets Its First Rain of September, But It's Not Enough to Clear the Wildfire Smoke


That little bit of rain, our first for September, didn't do much to clear the smoke-filled air in the Puget Sound region.

"The smoke is going to continue, and there's probably not going to be relief for at least a couple days," Gary Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said early Tuesday.

Schneider said there has been some talk about improvement in air quality on Thursday, but he said he's not so sure. We could be stuck with the smoke until the weekend.

"It's trapped. It has no place to go," he said.

Even if we were to get strong marine breezes and a heavier rain, it might not clear the smoke as much as people expect, Schneider said. For one thing, there's smoke off the coast, too, he said. "It would take more than a push to get it through."

The sky above the smoke is clear and blue, Schneider said, and today would have been a nice September day if it weren't for the fires.

A dozen wildfires continued to burn in Washington on both sides of the Cascade Mountains on Tuesday morning.

Most of the state's larger fires were reported on Monday to be moderately to minimally active, with several expected to be fully or partially controlled by midweek.

Light precipitation overnight Monday in Western Washington and the most northern portions of Oregon -- along with high humidity, cloud cover and thick smoke west of the Cascades -- moderated temperatures and kept fire activity minimal on large fires, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NWCC).

The blazes have already burned more than 790,000 acres in Washington, or more than 1,234 square miles -- almost 15 times the size of Seattle. And although most of the fires started in the past week or so, the area burned is already almost two-thirds the amount of land burned during the state's record-breaking fire season of 2015.

The most active fires in the region are in southern and central Oregon, according to the NWCC.