Monday, October 03, 2022

Air quality remains good

Staff Writer | August 13, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Air quality throughout North Idaho has been good this summer and is expected to remain that way, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

The clear conditions are a stark contrast to other summers' smoky skies.

“We’re a lot better off than we were last year,” said Dan Smith, regional airshed coordinator for IDEQ. “The weather has been very different.”

Last summer, the Panhandle faced record-breaking heat and frequent air-quality cautions. But this year, a wet spring with rains that continued into June kept the weather comparatively moderate.

“This year is plenty hot, but with all the residual moisture, that’s kept the fire danger low,” Smith said.

In addition to smoke from fires throughout the Northwest, weather patterns last year also pushed in smoke from other regions.

North Idaho hasn’t seen the same patterns this year, though Smith noted the Panhandle received some smoke from a fire south of Cheney last week.

Air quality has been mostly good this summer, Smith said, with some hourly instances of the air quality index rising into higher categories.

That could happen again this weekend. Some models show higher air quality indexes beginning Sunday evening, as smoke drifts in from other areas.

“I personally don’t think it’s going to happen,” Smith said.

The region will experience a brief cool down this weekend, with the potential for large thunderstorms this evening.

Hot and dry conditions will return Monday and last all week.

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