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newsroom@kuow.orgKUOW corrects substantive errors of fact in a timely way in both our broadcast and online reports. Corrections of errors will be made on-air and on our website.

Are smoky skies in Seattle the new summer norm?

The smoky skies over Seattle may be the new summer normal, according to Sim Larkin, a research meteorologist for the U.S. Forest Service.

“We’re in a transition phase with fuels on the ground and with our climate patterns shifting, and we don’t know exactly where that’s heading at this point,” said Larkin, speaking to Bill Radke on KUOW’s The Record. “Defining a new normal may be a little bit premature, but what we’re seeing these days seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

The smoke is coming from a variety of places, depending on the day Larkin said. “Most recently we’ve seen a lot of smoke coming down from Canada from B.C. fires into Seattle and that’s probably likely to continue for a little bit.”

Erik Saganic, an air quality forecaster with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, said that the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

“If you have a chronic lung condition like asthma or a chronic cough, or there’s also people who have heart conditions - actually this is really important because those fine particles that are in the smoke can cause heart attacks, can cause strokes,” Saganic said.

The Washington Department of Health advises people to avoid outdoor physical exertion and to keep indoor air as clean as possible.

Produced for the Web by Megan Farmer. 

Correction, 12:43 p.m. 8/17/2018: The original version of this story misspelled Sim Larkin's last name. 

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