Sixth inundation of smoke this summer – WAQA at 162, “unhealthy”

By Bruce A. Smith

The sixth inundation of smoke since August 1 settled over Eatonville today, Saturday, September 16. This makes the 22nd day in the past 47 that we have had unhealthy air to breathe.

Again, the culprits are the regional fires: Norse Peak in the Crystal Mountain region, Jolly Mountain north of I-90 in Cle Elam, and the pesky Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge. Unfortunately, our old ally – maritime winds from the west – ceased blowing on Friday night, according to the Washington Department of Ecology, allowing easterly winds to push the smoke into the Puget Sound basin.

But more disturbingly, JBLM continues to light fires this week despite the epic burns elsewhere. Dispatch at Joint Base Lewis McChord confirmed today that the military reservation had been conducting a controlled burn two days ago – Thursday – but that fire has smoldered since then, and today it re-ignited.

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Posted in Culture, Environment, Health, Smoke, Weather | 8 Comments

Smoke back again – fifth episode this summer

By Bruce A. Smith

The fifth inundation of smoke since early August occurred in Eatonville today, September 11, courtesy of Joint Base Lewis McChord. Through some kind of atmospheric inversion, JBLM’s grit and gases smothered the ground-level air at mid-day while the skies above were bright blue, punctuated with fair-weather clouds.

This one-day event gives us twenty days of unhealthy air in the past forty.

JBLM confirmed that they were conducting another controlled burn – this time along State Route 507 near the East Gate.

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Posted in Eatonville News, Health, Mount Rainier, Smoke, Weather | 2 Comments

Sections of Mount Rainier National Park close due to approaching forest fire

Special to the Mountain News

Mount Rainier National Park is closing public access to much of the eastern portions of the park due to extreme fire danger. The nearby Norse Peak Fire has exhibited erratic behaviors over the past few days due to changing winds patterns, and the NPS made the following announcement today, Friday, September 8, 2017: Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Mount Rainier, Nature, Smoke, Weather | Leave a comment

Smoke returns to the PNW as the nation copes with natural disasters

By Bruce A. Smith

The smoke came silently at night, drifting over Eatonville from the east. Around midnight our nearly-full moon turned a deep red-orange, indicating that the grit and gases from the eastern forest fires had filled the upper atmosphere while, oddly, the ground level air remained cool and clean due to gentle maritime winds from the west.

However, the smoke settled down through the air column by morning, ushering in the fourth major smoke inundation this summer. The culprits are now familiar, but bigger and smokier:

The Norse Peak fire, in the Cascades due east of Tacoma, expanded to nearly 20,000 acres by Tuesday, according to the Northwest Coordinating Center of the National Interagency Firefighting Council. The NWCC reported today that the fire has crossed the Pacific Crest Trail and threatens the Crystal Mountain Ski Area area, triggering a Level 3 mandatory evacuation for Crystal Mountain and neighboring communities.

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Posted in Environment, Smoke, Weather | 3 Comments

An Open-Letter to Houston

By Bruce A. Smith

I’ve had some burning questions about Hurricane Harvey, particularly the flooding in Houston that no one in the media is addressing. Yes, the storm and the rescue of thousands is important and is being told well. But many questions relevant to both issues are mostly overlooked, especially surviving-in-place.

The basic question is how did all of this happen? Yes, we now know about the over-development of Greater Houston, and we have a keener sense of politics, big money, and big rains coming into conflict in Texas. But other significant questions linger, especially the lack of personal preparedness by individual residents. So this is both a rant and a questioning statement that I will enjoy hearing your response. Here are the questions:

First, I see two major disasters this week in Texas. One was the hurricane and its traditionally destructive forces, such as high winds and storm surge. The second is the massive flooding from the prolonged rains experienced in Houston, Port Arthur, and Lake Charles. Continue reading

Posted in Back East, Culture, Environment, Health, Nature, Self Reliance, Weather | 9 Comments

DB Cooper video available now on YouTube

By Bruce A. Smith

A comprehensive overview of the iconic DB Cooper skyjacking is now available on YouTube:

Presented by Bruce A. Smith, it was filmed on November 8, 2016 at the Graham Library in Graham, Washington through the kind auspices of Ray Cool, who was also instrumental in the editing.

This video is based upon Smith’s book: DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking and examines the case in detail. In addition, it gives insight into how the FBI truly functions and how law enforcement struggles to solve innovative, complex cases that involved multiple jurisdictions. Continue reading

Posted in Cops and courts, DB Cooper, Entertainment | 5 Comments

Smoke and Heat Return, Regional and Local Fires Contribute

By Bruce A. Smith

The smoke, and concomitant temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s, returned to Eatonville again this week. Air quality began to deteriorate on Monday, August 28 and worsened today, Tuesday, with WAQA Index readings from the Department of Ecology reaching “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The DOE’s Puyallup station registered a 127 by mid afternoon. WAQA readings range from 0 to 500.

Dramatically, Mount Rainier could not be seen from Eatonville. The smokey haze is caused by fine particulate matter as small as 2.5 microns, and such tiny bits of unburned wood, besides obscuring the beautiful vistas of a hot summer’s day, can be very dangerous. Those most at risk are people with lung, cardiac, and diabetic conditions. In addition, the smoke is filled with carbon monoxide gases and other chemical irritants that make eyes sting.

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Posted in Culture, Eatonville News, Environment, Health, Mount Rainier, Nature, Smoke, Weather | 2 Comments