Wildfires burning across the Pacific Northwest cast dark clouds of smoke over Seattle this week. The city ranked as having the worst air quality worldwide on Wednesday evening.
IQAir, a Swiss company that measures air pollution worldwide, still ranks Seattle as having the worst air quality in the world on Thursday. Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia, also made the top 10.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency warned Seattle residents that the incoming smoke was dangerous to inhale. Puget Sound encouraged residents to limit time spent outside and keep doors and windows closed to protect themselves from the polluted air.
Nine fires burned across Washington and Oregon before a red flag warning was issued for critical fire conditions, NBC News reported. A fire in Nakia Creek near Vancouver, Washington, grew rapidly on Sunday night. The human-caused fire blazed across Clark County, Washington, and engulfed Portland and Seattle with smoke.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, smoke from wildfires is particularly dangerous to pregnant people, outdoor workers, individuals with heart or lung disease, those over 65 and children. Smoke exposure is linked to eye irritation, bronchitis, difficulty breathing, lung disease and premature death.
Relief for Pacific Northwest residents is expected as early as Friday — rainstorm is expected to make it way through Seattle this weekend.
“We’re gonna see a first decent shot of rain since early June this year and much cooler temperatures,” Dev McMillian, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told USA Today.
Seattle just experienced its driest summer on record. The city known for its precipitation received just 0.5 inches of rain between June 21 and Sept. 21, a period that averages 2.98 inches of rain.