Axios Seattle

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🎉 It's Friday! Our efficiency is not at its peak, and we're OK with that.

🌤️ Today's weather: Mostly sunny. High near 48.

Situational awareness: We're off Monday for Presidents Day, but look out for a special edition newsletter that morning from the larger Axios newsroom.

Today's newsletter is 853 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: More days of bad air quality

Estimated days with unhealthy air quality, 2024
Data: First Street Foundation; Note: Maximum count of days with unhealthy air quality from anywhere within each county; Map: Axios Visuals

King County residents are likely to get three full weeks of poor air quality days this year — a trend that's expected to get even worse in the coming decades, according to a new report.

Why it matters: An increase in severe heat waves and large wildfires is dragging down air quality in Washington state and across the western U.S., Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

  • Unhealthy air limits people's ability to safely go outside or even open their windows, especially if they're children or have a medical condition like asthma.

By the numbers: King County is predicted to have 21 days this year with an air quality index over 100, a level deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to new research from the nonprofit First Street Foundation.

Threat level: By 2054, King County's number of days with unhealthy air could rise to 27, First Street predicts. That would be almost 30% more unhealthy air days.

Zoom in: Within Seattle city limits, the number of poor air quality days isn't expected to rise nearly as much over time. But in recent years, the Emerald City has already seen a large increase.

  • First Street estimated that 15 years ago, Seattle's air quality reached "orange" levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups only one day of the year.
  • This year, the organization is predicting the city will see 10 of those days.

The big picture: Climate change is increasing the prevalence of two of the air pollutants most harmful to human health: particulate matter, commonly referred to as PM2.5, and tropospheric ozone, the report finds.

  • First Street's researchers found that the West will be hit particularly hard by increasing amounts of PM2.5 emissions, as wildfires become more frequent and severe.

What we're watching

2. Ruby Beach named one of world's best

Driftwood, sea stack and sunset at Ruby Beach. Photo: VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park has been named one of the world's "most incredible" seaside spots.

Details: A new Lonely Planet book, "Best Beaches: 100 of the World's Most Incredible Beaches" lists Ruby Beach as one of its top picks.

  • The spot on the Washington coast was one of a dozen U.S. beaches to make the list, along with Oregon's Cannon Beach; two beaches in Hawai'i; two in Florida; three in California; one in Nevada; one in Georgia; and one east of Washington, D.C.

What they're saying: Lonely Planet describes Ruby Beach as looking like a "giant emptied his pockets on the shores."

  • "Tree trunks are strewn like matchsticks. Sea stacks cluster like crumbled chocolates. And a colorful assortment of agates, garnets and sea glass add a touch of glitter to the captivating mess."

Plus: The beach is a "wonderland for children, with tide pools hiding anemones, sea urchins, purple starfish and skittering crabs."

Did your favorite beach not make the cut? Hit reply to let us know why you think your spot got robbed.

  • We'll plan to compile reader picks into an epic best local beaches list!

3. Morning Buzz: (Some) Eastside light rail

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🚈 New light rail service between Redmond and Bellevue is scheduled to begin April 27, Sound Transit announced yesterday. (KING 5)

  • Go deeper: See our timeline of all planned light rail openings here.

🏛️ U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is set to preside over the impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

  • Murray is Senate president pro tempore, the first woman to hold that position. (Seattle Times)

4. 📅 Things to do this long weekend

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🌷 Get excited for spring at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, which features more than 20 display gardens and dozens of sessions to inspire you. Runs through Sunday at the Seattle Convention Center (705 Pike St.).

  • One-day admission is $27, with discounts for students. Half-day tickets cost $14.

📽️ Embrace cinematic glam and grit with Noir City, which will screen film noir titles from the U.S. and abroad. Opens today and runs through Feb. 22 at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

  • Individual tickets are $11–16; a full festival pass is $125–$150.

🎞️ Catch this year's Oscar-nominated animated short films in an 80-minute block at SIFF Cinema Uptown.

  • 7:30pm today; 12:45pm tomorrow; or 4pm Sunday.

🇨🇳 Honor Seattle's Chinese and Chinese-American community at the fourth annual Chinese Expulsion Rally and March. The event reflects on the February 1886 riot where a mob forcibly expelled many of Seattle's Chinese residents.

🎶 Support young musicians at MoPOP's Sound Off! Showcase, highlighting performances from Pacific Northwest artists under 21.

  • Tomorrow's 8pm performance is the first of three shows through March 2. $15 per show.

🌕 Watch a lion dance while sipping a tangerine latte at the Lunar New Year celebration at Westlake Park.

  • 10am–1pm Sunday.

🌊 Get fired up by sea shanties and other maritime music from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Americas and the Caribbean with La Nef: Red Sky at Night.

  • 2pm Sunday at Town Hall Seattle. Tickets are $15–$60.

🔥 Warm your hands at a firepit and soak up those Seattle waterfront sunset views.

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💐 Melissa is ready for spring to come.

🤧 Clarridge got sick now that she's finally back on U.S. soil. Get well soon!

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Egan Millard.