Smoke staying in our skies — and eyes — through the weekend

Officials say winds coming from the north pushing smoke from about 150 wildfires in Canada will continue blanketing Whidbey Island, the Puget Sound region and beyond with a thick gray haze.

Don’t expect relief until early next week.

Until then, the elderly, very young and those with respiratory problems are advised to stay indoors as the air quality is listed as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups.’

Thursday, air quality in Washington was declared “among the worst in the country,” by the Washington Department of Ecology. This week’s combination of bad air and high heat could take a toll on seniors, said Robert May, paramedic with WhidbeyHealth EMS.

“This is the time to check on your elderly neighbor,” he said. “Knock on their door, ask them if they need anything. Even if you’ve never met them, now is the time to reach out to them.”

May said he hadn’t heard that ambulance calls or emergency room visits had increased with patients suffering from respiratory or heat-related illnesses.

Island County is under a Type II burn ban, which forbids all recreational fires and all outdoor burning of natural debris even with a permit.

Use of barbecue grills using propane or briquettes, or self-contained camp stoves, are still allowed.

The hazy skies not only led to spectacular sunrises and sunsets, it also created a sunshine shield, helping tamp down the temperature slightly.

According to the National Weather Service, the low-level offshore flow that’s been pushing smoke into the region and interfering with the usual cool Pacific breezes is expected to begin to reverse. So temperatures — and horizons — should return to Northwestern normal.