As you are probably aware, there are some rather large fires burning in the Cascades. After a wet spring, we've gone months without a drop of rain in some parts of the Pacific Northwest making conditions ripe for wildfires. In fact, the two massive fires in the Cascades, the Table Mountain Fire and Wenatchee River Complex Fire, could merge into one massive blaze. That's bad news for the folks living around it considering those fires are both less than a quarter contained and should they merge, they'd create one fire almost 100 square miles in size. If you're traveling to Pullman this weekend for Homecoming, please keep the people who have been evacuated and those who still may need to be evacuated in your thoughts.
Those massive fires have been the source of another big problem east of the Cascades: smoke and lots of it. My sister's own report from Pullman was that the smoke was severe enough it was making it difficult to walk a decent distance. Our own Brian Floyd flew over it today and reported you couldn't even see the ground tens of thousands of feet below. The smoke has gotten severe enough the National Weather Service has issued an Air Quality Alert for Pullman through Monday evening. The Weather Service says the air remains so hazardous, people should stay inside as much as possible. Normally that would just extend to those with health issues, but Whitman County Public Health wants everyone to stay inside because the air is so hazardous. And if you had any plans for a campfire this weekend, think again. Governor Chris Gregoire has banned all outdoor burning in eastern Washington through the weekend.
As bad as the smoke may be for you sitting in the stands you can only imagine the effects it will have on the football players for both teams. In addition to Central Washington moving their game against Azusa Pacific to Bothell this weekend, Pullman High has bagged their game and a number of high schools in Spokane have followed suit. The fact that WSU is still going on with the game as scheduled is itself a miracle. Unlike any perceived advantage Washington State gets from snow on the ground, no one has an advantage here. Every breath the players take after a long sprint will be full of dangerous smoke particulates. Players will need to drink as much water as possible to keep from choking on smoke. It wouldn't surprise me if some warm-ups where moved to a gym in the PEB, Bohler or just scrapped completely. In all likelihood, players on both teams will need to be rotated in and out of the game much more frequently in an effort to limit the effects of the smoke.
Rain, sleet, snow and wind are one thing. They don't make breathing hard and hazardous like the smoke will. Let's all keep our fingers crossed the smoke has minimal effects on every player, be they a Coug or Buff this weekend.
Don't forget: the public health department is advising you to stay inside this weekend. As if you needed any more encouragement to stay in Valhalla or The Coug, you just got it. "Dude, we can't leave, it's bad for our health." "Alright, so someone order another Boone's Farm. MAKE SURE IT'S FUZZY NAVEL!"