This October smoke could be the latest on record

SPOKANE, Wash — Air Quality on Wednesday spent most of the day hovering in the Orange AQI range, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. That would not be a surprise in the summertime. In the past decade, the Inland Northwest has gotten used to a yearly invasion of wildfire smoke. In October however, a smoky day like this is unheard of.

With air quality more likely than not to hit the 24-hour threshold set by the EPA, October 19th would the by far the latest date on the record considered unhealthy because of wildfire smoke. Whether that happens or not, the widespread poor air quality across the Inland Northwest is highly unusual and is almost unprecedented this later in the year. Communities closer to the fires are faring even worse than around Spokane. Bonners Ferry, Newport, Sandpoint, Wenatchee, and Leavenworth are all experiencing long-term unhealthy air quality this week. It is one of if not the latest impacts from wildfire smoke in the known record.

Spokane Air Quality Chart 1999-2022

Source: EPA
Copyright 4 News Now

RELATED: Wildfires are sinking Spokane air quality over the last decade

Wildfires in North Idaho and Northeast Washington continue to putter out smoke after a hot September and October. High pressure this week led to stagnant winds and smoke trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere where we all live and breathe.

High pressure's impact on wildfire smoke

Copyright 4 News Now

The past couple of months should remain a rare and unusual period in history for some time, but not forever. Climate change will likely contribute to this region seeing more situations like this in the future. September is getting hotter and drier in Spokane. Since 1946 average temperatures are two and a half degrees warmer with a quarter-inch less rain on average in September. From a weather perspective, this signals that we are seeing more years with fewer storms and more high pressure at the start of Autumn.

With fewer storms during this time period, the fire season is getting longer, and the smoke season will get longer with it.

Lucky for us in 2022, this smoky October will be cut off when the first true storm of fall arrives at the end of the week.

RELATED: More smoke and haze with record heat again – Mark