Seafair
9:30 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Blue Angels' Flights Won't Damage Hearing, But Will Affect Traffic

People can expect to hear the roar of the Blue Angels zooming above Lake Washington this weekend. After missing last year’s Boeing Seafair Air Show due to sequestration cuts, the Blue Angels have returned to Seattle.

The noise of the planes may be bothersome to neighbors, but audiologist Susan Anderson says it doesn’t pose a health risk.

“I think it’s manageable for people,” said Anderson, who is with the University of Washington’s speech and hearing sciences department. “But they shouldn’t just plug their ears or put cotton in their ears. To really protect themselves, they should be wearing some type of earplugs.”

Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidelines state that people can be exposed to noise at 85 decibels for eight hours if they are wearing hearing protection. While the planes flying overhead are at around 100 decibels, Anderson says it’s not a huge problem since they fly by in seconds and exposure time is limited.

Anderson recommends buying earplugs with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 25 decibels or more. Those with sensitivity to noise or tinnitus should especially wear hearing protection while watching the show to avoid any exaggeration of their symptoms, she said.

While hearing loss might not be an issue, the Blue Angels will affect Interstate 90 traffic across Lake Washington intermittently Thursday through Sunday.

I-90 Closure Schedule

  • Thursday, July 31: 9:45 a.m. to noon; 1:15 to 2:40 p.m. (practice)
  • Friday, Aug. 1: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m. (practice)
  • Saturday, Aug. 2: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m. (Seafair airshow)
  • Sunday, Aug. 3: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m. (Seafair airshow)

Ramp Closures

  • Both directions of I-5 to eastbound I-90 ramp (closed up to 30 minutes prior to practice or show)
  • Rainier Avenue ramps to eastbound I-90 (closed up to 30 minutes prior to practice or show)
  • 76th Avenue to westbound I-90 (closed up to 30 minutes prior to practice or show)
  • Island Crest Way to westbound I-90 (closed up to 30 minutes prior to practice or show)
  • Eastbound I-90 to West Mercer Way (closed up to 30 minutes prior to practice or show)
  • East Mercer Way to westbound I-90 (closed up one hour prior to practice or show)
  • West Mercer Way to westbound I-90 (up to one hour prior to practice or show)

SR 520 Open During I-90 Closures

During the I-90 closures, the SR 520 floating bridge will still be open to traffic and tolls will be collected, according to the rate schedule

The SR 520 drawspan will not open for marine traffic during these hours:

  •  Thursday, July 31: 9:45 a.m. to noon; 1:15 to 2:40 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 1: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 2: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m.
  •  Sunday, Aug. 3: 12:15 to 2:40 p.m.
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