Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sept. 20, 2020

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‘Beyond index’ air conditions continue in Clark County, with little relief in sight

Forecasters say smoke will likely persist at lower elevations until the weekend

By , Columbian Metro Editor
Published:

As air pollution levels in Clark County remain hazardous, Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency has extended its air pollution advisory through Thursday.

Smoke from nearby wildfires is expected to continue to pollute local air quality until an active weather system moves into the region on Thursday.

Dense fog is expected until noon today, and dense smoke until 6 p.m.

Schools are continuing remotely today but have suspended in-person services. The Evergreen School District has announced that services will also be suspended Tuesday.

Regular garbage, recycling and organics/yard debris services have been canceled in Vancouver and the rest of Clark County, and transfer stations will close early.

Meals on Wheels People announced Monday morning that it will suspend meal delivery today and Tuesday. Staff will make wellness calls to all homebound participants and instruct them to eat one of the meals delivered last week, according to a press release. Meals on Wheels People has been delivering supplemental food to homebound seniors since the pandemic began.

Vancouver levels for small particulate (PM 2.5) pollution were at 477 as of about 3:45 p.m., down from a maximum reading of 635 late Sunday evening. Pollution levels in Yacolt were at 314, still hazardous.

Air quality is rated as good between 0 to 50, moderate from 51 to 100, unhealthy for sensitive groups from 101-150, unhealthy for everyone from 151 to 200, and very unhealthy for everyone from 201 to 300. Readings from 300-500 are considered hazardous and readings above 500 are considered “beyond index.”

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a series of suggestions for protecting your health in such conditions on its webpage.

State health officials have advised that everyone should stay indoors, avoid all strenuous activity, close windows and doors if it’s not too hot, set their air conditioner to recirculate and use a HEPA air filter if possible. People with heart or lung disease, or those who have had a stroke, should consult their healthcare provider.

There has been hope that an approaching weather system would bring relief to the area, but the National Weather Service is predicting that improvements will be slow in coming as a large volume of smoke that had lingered offshore pushes its way through the area.

“Smoky skies continue over next several days, especially for interior lowlands,” a National Weather Service forecast discussion said.

A frontal system will bring a spotty light rain tonight into Tuesday, with lingering showers Tuesday afternoon and evening and a chance of showers for toward the end of the week.

“Then, just then, flow may be strong enough to push smoke on east of the Cascades, with true blue skies at times for next weekend,” the National Weather Service said.

This morning, expect widespread areas of fog and smoke with visibilities frequently around or less than a quarter mile, with the worst conditions in areas below 1,500 feet in elevation. Visibility will improve to one to two miles this afternoon.

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