Smoky weather put a damper on outdoor activities

Unhealthy air quality in Renton last week posed health hazards, closing or moving events indoors.

The scent of smoke in the polluted air and a red glowing sun dominated the skyline last week in Western Washington, especially Renton.

So while most would associate weather closures with frigid temperatures and rare blizzards, now, summers pose a threat to outdoor activities.

The weather pattern poses a hazard for sensitive groups, but also the general population when it’s bad enough.

People closed their doors and windows from the ashes in the air.

Last week, air quality reached an unhealthy level for all people, warning that even healthy Washingtonians should stay indoors when possible.

The city of Renton saw a few closures due to the air quality Monday Aug. 20 through Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Deputy Public Affairs Administrator Preeti Shridhar said all the parks were open, though they did not have lifeguards at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and Kennydale Beach Park Aug. 20 through 22.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center was closed Aug. 20 to 21 before reopening Aug. 22.

Renton Farmers Market was still open for fresh fruits and veggies Aug. 21, but the senior center dance group performance at the market was canceled.

Renton School District also moved all of the fall sports teams, and some activities indoors last week.

Lindbergh High School football team has been getting creative with indoor practices. Head coach Danny Thompson said poor air quality forced them to adjust in order to achieve their practice goals for those days. They have had a few indoor practices since Aug. 15, where they held the first practice indoors.

Thompson said they wanted to provide athletes with an environment optimizing physical development and team camaraderie.

The football program is built on positive reinforcement so the weather challenge provided an opportunity to get more creative in the way the team develops student athletes, he said.

“Bad air returns forcing us back inside for our second practice. Coaches and trainers have been monitoring air quality all day and made the decision as air reaches unhealthy levels,” One tweet from @Lindbergh-fb read.

They even added dodgeball and swimming into the mix.

“The pool provided a great team bonding aspect to our practice,” Thompson said.

Thompson said strength and conditioning coach Zachary Walters shares in his belief of a well-rounded approach to development of student athletes. He said it’s about more than being a football player, it’s about focusing all aspects of sport movement and long term development.

“We are very lucky to have our own pool. Air quality has cancelled our jamboree. Another creative practice,” they tweeted Aug. 25.

Football, golf, tennis, cross country, soccer, and marching band practices were moved indoors, Randy Matheson, district spokesperson said.

And with air quality like this expected in coming summers, Renton events will continue to see the unusual weather closures in the warm, dry months to come.