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caption: Air quality in Seattle turned hazardous according to the state Department of Ecology, as wildfire smoke from California and Oregon settled in the area Saturday, September 12, 2020. Here, Balmer Yard is shown at sunrise.
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Air quality in Seattle turned hazardous according to the state Department of Ecology, as wildfire smoke from California and Oregon settled in the area Saturday, September 12, 2020. Here, Balmer Yard is shown at sunrise.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Is your air filter ready for a smoky NW summer?: Today So Far

  • Don't be deceived by our cold, wet Northwest spring. Weather experts are expecting more wildfires and smoke through the summer season.
  • The Seattle Storm finally have their own facility.
  • This Washington charter school faces allegations that it is falling short on English language instruction.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 25, 2022.

We've had it pretty good around here this spring. And by "good" I mean cold and wet (hey, I'm from the Northwest). But don't be deceived by the season, the Northwest weather ahead is likely to change. In fact, now is a good time to make sure your air filters are ready for any summer smoke.

Reid Wolcott with the National Weather Service tells Seattle Now that while western Washington is doing great in terms of rainfall, the eastern part of the state has never really recovered from extremely dry conditions. It is generally wavering between moderate and severe drought.

"As we go into later June and July ... we start to see, perhaps, drier-than-usual conditions, especially across eastern Washington where we have those drought conditions, and above-normal temperatures as we head further into the summer months," Wolcott said.

Wolcott says that it might be July-ish before any wildfire activity shows up in western Washington. But as we have learned, it's not just the nearby wildfires that we should be worried about. Wildfires in eastern Washington, other states, and Canada send smoke far and wide. That smoke often comes our way.

"With this season shaping up the way it is, despite the fact we may not see the fires as severe here in the western part of the state, we are surrounded by territory that is likely to have an above-normal fire season ... we are seeing a risk of a higher-than-average, smokier season," he said.

Hear more of Wolcott's insights for the season ahead here.

The Seattle Storm has a fervent fan base, some all-star players, and a few major wins in its trophy case. Now, the Seattle Storm has its own place to practice. That sounds sort of weird to say. The Storm is quite a successful team. Yet it hasn't had its own facility ... until now. A 50,000-square-foot practice and business facility is slated for Seattle's Interbay neighborhood. The $60 million project is expected to be ready by 2024. Given that the team has been so successful already, without such a great resource, it should be interesting to watch moving forward.

Impact Public Schools is a charter school network located in Seattle, Tukwila, and Tacoma. It has received $857,000 from the state over the past four years to support its English language programs. That's important, because these schools serve a lot of immigrant families and children who are learning English. But parents and teachers are speaking up, saying that such language programs barely exist.

Baionne Coleman used to work at the schools. She notes that Impact once submitted funding paperwork to the state that claimed it led training sessions for instructors who teach English learners. Coleman's name was even listed on that paperwork as leading the instruction.

“I didn’t teach any ELL training,” Coleman told KUOW. “I’m not certified to teach ELL.”

Another teacher who currently works at Impact added, “I don't think parents necessarily know that we don't have an [English language] specialist ... There’s a child in my class who’s still in the silent stage. He knows words, pretty sure, but he’s not speaking yet. I’m very concerned about this child.”

Impact officials say the schools are in full compliance and meet state requirements. Read the full story here.

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: KUOW's Bill Radke with journalist Mónica Guzmán.
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KUOW's Bill Radke with journalist Mónica Guzmán.
Credit: Courtesy of Mónica Guzmán

KUOW's Bill Radke and journalist Mónica Guzmán pose for a photo after the two recorded a conversation for Radke's first episode of "Subtext: What Goes Unsaid." Guzmán discussed how she has navigated complicated and tense conversations in Seattle. (Courtesy of Mónica Guzmán)

DID YOU KNOW?

On May 25, 1977 (45 years ago!) the very first "Star Wars" film was released into movie theaters and forever changed pop culture. And by "very first" I mean the actual first film, which some would call "Episode IV" today.

"Star Wars" initially had a very limited release. But the Force was strong with this film. It soon proved to be a blockbuster and was sent out for wide release. The film had a budget of $11 million. It ended up taking in $775.8 million. Today, the Library of Congress has noted its importance and has preserved it in the National Film Registry. The film's soundtrack is also included in the National Recording Registry for its significance. In fact, the American Film Institute lists the Star Wars score as the most important in movie history.

And fun fact: 1977's Star Wars through 1983's Return of the Jedi marks the boundaries of the Xennial microgeneration — a generation some would argue is superior to both Gen X and Millennials ... or is just super confused.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

caption: Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
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Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
Credit: AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

27 school shootings have taken place so far this year

A shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed at least two people and hospitalized a dozen children marks the 27th school shooting this year. Local police said the shooter behind Tuesday's incident is in custody.


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