For some days, chilly Seattle and environs have been in the grip of what the local news media keep calling fog. But I’m still wheezing after having refereed youth soccer for several hours this afternoon on Beacon Hill in Seattle. Before becoming New To Seattle, I lived for years around Los Angeles, and prior to that, Albuquerque and Houston, all cities with persistent air quality problems. I know smog when I breathe it, and believe me, this is smog.
But that wouldn’t mesh with the narrative of Seattle as a pristine place in perfect harmony with nature. So the news accounts generally just reference fog, which seems so refreshing. “Foggy weather to last into weekend,” said a typical recent post on the website of KING-TV. Here’s a headline on the website of another TV station, KOMO: “Time lapse video shows Space Needle towering above fog.” To me, the video looks suspiciously close to what I see from a plane landing at LAX or Burbank on a particularly gruesome day.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency–there’s a reason why this exists–has laid down a woodburning fireplace usage ban until further notice along with a notso-hotso air quality prediction for the next few days. The National Weather Service today issued an air stagnation advisory.
To be fair, I think this is an unusual event in Seattle, whose air quality I normally find quite acceptable. This is so unlike Los Angeles. Its air inversion pollution problems, largely caused by the San Gabriel Mountains, are so persistent that Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo way back in 1542 named the offshore waters Bay of Smoke because of the overhanging haze from the fires of onshore Indians.
But the current P.R. spin in Seattle clearly has its roots around the City of Angels. In the 1880s, during one of the area’s earliest booms (followed, of course, by one of its earliest bubbles and busts), real estate developers slyly advertised inland lots as being free of “fog-laden sea breezes.”
But meantime, I guess I’m just going to have to put up with the
smog fog-laden sea breezes fog for awhile. Fortunately, I’m not scheduled to referee soccer again for at least a few days.