PRP-SmokeyConditions

Haze from smoke hangs over the Selah High School football field last September. Similar conditions caused by smoke from wildfires have forced area high school sports teams, as well as Central Washington University teams, to practice inside in the past week. (Yakima Herald-Republic file)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima County’s skies turned more blue than smoky amber Thursday as winds blew away much of the wildfire smoke that has fouled the air.

The steady breezes out of the west escorted in a cold front that is expected to drop the region’s high temperatures today by about 20 degrees from Thursday’s in the low 90s, according to the National Weather Service.

The air quality level improved from unhealthy for everyone to unhealthy for sensitive people by Thursday evening in the Upper Valley.

The Toppenish area remained in very-unhealthy status, according to the state Department of Ecology.

But Mark Edler, spokesman for the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency, said winds could significantly clear up the air in the Upper Valley, and offer some relief in the Lower Valley.

“I won’t guarantee it will get into the good category,” Edler said. “It’s already starting to clear out on the coast.”

Much of the smoke appears to be coming from fires in the Chelan area, as well as British Columbia and Idaho, Edler said. But west winds will not mean all the smoke will be eliminated, as it will likely bring in some from the Miriam Fire burning near White Pass.

A burn ban remains in place for the entire county, as well as the Yakama Nation reservation.