Air quality alert

A change in the weather will soon wash away the hazy curtain of smoke that has enveloped Southwest Washington for better than a week.

An air pollution advisory for Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties will remain in effect until midday Friday, according to the Southwest Clean Air Agency.

But cooler temperatures and fresh westerly breezes should start chasing all the forest fire smoke out of the region by late week. In fact, the Weather Service is predicting that the Kelso-Longview area will get its first showers in nearly two months Saturday night.

Since June 18, rain has fallen only on one day — July 20, when a scant 0.05 inch fell at Longview’s Mint Farm water treatment plant. Summer is typically dry here, but so far this one has been exceptionally arid.

Sunny and pleasant temperatures are expected to return Monday, with no outlook for scorching temperatures like those that cooked the area last week.

Until the weather scrubs out the air this weekend, area residents are advised to protect their health and help improve air quality by reducing pollution from cars, mowers, paint and aerosol sprays.

Commuters should consider taking public transportation or carpooling to work instead of driving, if possible. Smog-sensitive people, and those sensitive to wildfire smoke, should limit outdoor activities. This group includes older adults, children and people suffering from asthma or lung disease.

Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.

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