skip to main content
caption: The Seattle skyline is shown shrouded in smoke from wildfires burning in Canada, on Friday, August 13, 2021, from Jefferson Park in Seattle.
Enlarge Icon
The Seattle skyline is shown shrouded in smoke from wildfires burning in Canada, on Friday, August 13, 2021, from Jefferson Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

How long will smoky skies linger above Puget Sound?

The smell of the air around the Puget Sound today is ... not pleasant. Some KUOW employees described it as "like a smoked ham" or "similar to a car backfiring."

So, how long will we be living with this burnt ham, car backfiring, badly-made bonfire smoke? And what is breathing it in doing to our bodies?

Air quality in Northwest King County and southern Snohomish County isn't looking great, says Air Quality Scientist Phil Swartzendruber with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

"We are up to unhealthy and unhealthy for sensitive groups in a number of those areas."

That's a result of the smoldering Bolt Creek Fire north of Skykomish, says Swartzendruber.

"It started off a little bit above us, and so wasn't at the ground until the morning. And it's now starting to mix down. And there might be a little bit more pushing in. But it's making it to the ground and lots of areas. And it's really worsening the air quality for a lot of people."

Swartzendruber recommends staying inside if possible, and that using a properly fitted N95 when outside is also a good idea.

The smoke is expected to move out of the region by later this afternoon or this evening.