Lightning Powers, 8, comes up for air while swimming in the South Fork Stillaguamish River on Friday in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lightning Powers, 8, comes up for air while swimming in the South Fork Stillaguamish River on Friday in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

As heatwave crests, smoky skies are fading in the forecast

Hot temps and smoke are expected to ease late Saturday and improve drastically by Sunday.

EVERETT — While people can still expect hot weather and smoky skies Saturday, the worst conditions should be behind us, for now. Smoke is expected to begin clearing Saturday, bringing air quality to “moderate” levels for most of the day around Puget Sound.

An excessive heat warning for Snohomish County was expected to end Friday night. Temperatures reached the 90s in Everett, Arlington and in parts of the county Friday afternoon.

“By this evening, we should start to get a pretty good wind from the west blowing in some cleaner marine air,” said Phil Swartzendruber, a forecaster and air quality scientist with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, on Friday. “We should see this start to clean out overnight.”

Mike McFarland, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Friday that Snohomish County can expect “one more hot day” Saturday, with temperatures in the upper 80s. Sunday will cool down dramatically, McFardland said.

Still, county and public health officials warned people to keep an eye on the temperature and smoke conditions. It’s important for people to monitor themselves and their loved ones for heat- and smoke-related illnesses, they said. The Snohomish Health District maintains a list of cooling centers on its website.

“Anywhere that gets over 95 (degrees) is of concern, particularly for folks who are used to living near the Sound and being fairly cool in the summers,” said Kent Patton, a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Executive’s Office. “They really are unaccustomed to those sorts of temperatures.”

There were 12 heat-related deaths in Snohomish County during the record-breaking heatwave in late June, the county medical examiner officially confirmed Friday. Nine of them were men and three were women. The youngest was 45.

Kari Bray, a spokesperson for the Snohomish Health District, recommended that people who do not have a way to stay cool indoors or away from the smoke use a cooling center. It’s especially important during the hottest parts of the day, which tend to be in the late afternoon and early evening, Bray said.

Cally Najera (left), 8, wades out to a log in the middle of the South Fork Stillaguamish River on Friday in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cally Najera (left), 8, wades out to a log in the middle of the South Fork Stillaguamish River on Friday in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“We definitely want to make sure we’ve got cooling stations in place, once you get into the mid and upper 90s,” Bray said, noting that number refers to the heat index. “Sometimes the temperature itself might be a little lower, but when you account for how it actually feels outside, it’s too hot to be safe out there for very long.”

In addition, Snohomish County is under a Stage 2 burn ban, meaning all outdoor fires (including recreational ones) are prohibited.

“We certainly don’t want to contribute any more to the smoke that’s in the air,” said Drew Bono, deputy fire chief for the Darrington Fire District. “Fire danger is still a big issue. We just want people to be safe and not cause any more issues.”

Bono noted that smoke conditions in Darrington seemed to get worse as the day carried on Friday, but that skies looked clearer than Thursday. While the department hadn’t received any calls for heat-related illnesses as of Friday afternoon, Bono noted the department typically receives more water rescue calls when it’s hot outside.

Engulfed in smoke, a ferry pulls away from the Mukilteo terminal and boats navigate the water in front of Everett’s Howarth Park on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Engulfed in smoke, a ferry pulls away from the Mukilteo terminal and boats navigate the water in front of Everett’s Howarth Park on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“People tend to underestimate the water,” Bono said. “Our rivers are pretty powerful, even in late summer. We always ask people to continue to respect the rivers.”

Debbie Copple, executive director for the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce in Sultan, said she didn’t see many people walking around Main Street on Friday afternoon. However, visitors stopped by on and off throughout the day, most on road trips and using their car’s AC.

She encouraged people who planned to shop at the Saturday Sultan Farmers Market to come early and avoid the heat. Other than that, Copple said, the heat and smoke weren’t as bad as she expected.

“You can see the haze in the upper sky, but there’s nothing I notice falling out of the sky,” Copple said. “We’ve been really fortunate. It’s been warm here, but it’s been warm everywhere.”

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

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