How Often Does Washington State Have Smoky Wildfire Summers?

It's so strange, as a kid growing up in Washington State I don't remember so many smoky summers.

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How Many Times In The Last 10 Years Have We Had A Smoky Summer Season?

My first recollection of any kind of weather event besides snow as a kid was when Mt. Saint Helens blew her top. My dad was taking us kids on a fishing trip but once those black clouds rolled in, we hightailed it home.

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I also experienced a big fire in Prosser back in 2016 as the hill behind our place on Byron Road went up in flames.

Outside of that, it seems like every summer has now become a hazy mess of smoke and fire that seems to have become the new "normal".

John McKay
John McKay

It might surprise you to find that Washington State has been experiencing these smoky summers going as far back as 1792 and Capt. George Vancouver’s Puget Sound expedition according to the website

Here are five times in the past summers Washington State has been covered with haze and smoke:

  1. August 2018: During the summer of 2018, numerous wildfires burned across the state, leading to extremely smoky conditions. The air quality in many parts of the state, including Seattle, was severely impacted, and visibility was significantly reduced.
  2. September 2020: In March 2020 fire season started, and Washington State experienced another intense wildfire season. Smoke from these fires blanketed many areas, including Seattle, with hazardous air quality levels. The skies turned an eerie orange hue due to the smoke filtering out sunlight.
  3. August 2017: The summer of 2017 saw significant wildfire activity in the state, leading to widespread smoke and haze. Air quality deteriorated, affecting not only the outdoors but also indoor spaces.
  4. August 2015: Washington State faced major wildfires during the summer of 2015, resulting in thick smoke and poor air quality. It was the largest wildfire season in the history of Washington State.
  5. August 2012: Wildfires in the Wenatchee National Forest during August 2012 resulted in dense smoke that spread across the region, leading to unhealthy air quality conditions in several areas.

As you can see, even in recent years, smoky and hazy summers still have to be part of living in Washington State.

The best advice I can give you during wildfire season is that if you don't have to go outside, don't.

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