Smoke From Western Wildfires Rolls Into Utah, Dropping Air Quality To Unhealthy Levels
Aug 6, 2021, 10:17 AM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:46 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — A massive amount of smoke from wildfires burning in Northern California has blown in across northern Utah, dropping air quality to unhealthy levels.
Meteorologists said a cold front will move across northern Utah, shifting south and east through the day Friday, and smoke will “increase markedly in concentration” behind the front.
Thick smoke from upstream fires in northern California will remain across N Utah through the day today. Expect conditions to begin improving tonight as the winds becomes more northerly. The two images below are smoke forecasts for 3pm (2100 UTC) and 1am tonight (0700 UTC). #utwx pic.twitter.com/ZYnexciQnr
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 6, 2021
Air quality is expected to drop to unhealthy levels across northern Utah, especially in Salt Lake County.
“If you are in a population that is sensitive to poor air quality — those with heart or lung conditions including asthma, young children and adults 65+, and pregnant individuals should reduce or better yet avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outside,” officials with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality said.
Air quality: Some of the worst I have EVER seen- even compared to a bad inversion day in winter. Look at Tooele numbers over 200! pic.twitter.com/i5RFfI5Xii
— Grant Weyman (@KSLweyman) August 6, 2021
The smoke is coming from multiple fires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Northern California and Oregon, including the Dixie Fire, which burned through the town of Greenville, California, on Thursday.
The Dixie Fire had burned over 430,000 acres as of Friday and was 35% contained.
Current air quality conditions can be seen here. State fire officials have not reported any new wildfires as of 10 a.m. Friday, and Centerville police reported its dispatch center is being overwhelmed with calls about the smoke.
Officials said the smoke and hazy conditions are not currently affecting flights into Salt Lake City International Airport, but flights could be impacted if conditions worsen.
Reduce Smoke Exposure Outdoors
Officials with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality say if it’s smoky outdoors, it’s best to limit the amount of time you spend outside. Soot and fine particulates can cause coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat and difficulty breathing.
- Reduce your physical activity outdoors.
- Know your air quality. Smoke levels can change a lot during the day, so wait until air quality is better before you are active outdoors. Visit air.utah.gov or download the free UtahAir app for iPhone and Android for air-quality forecasts and current air-quality conditions.
- Have enough food and medication on hand to last several days, so you don’t have to go out for supplies. If you must go out, avoid the smokiest times of the day.
– Consider buying an indoor air purifier
– Postpone house cleaning
– Avoid being too active
– Use N95 masks
— Utah DEQ (@UtahDEQ) August 6, 2021
- Reduce smoke in your vehicle by closing the windows and vents and running the air conditioner in recirculate mode.
- Do not rely on dust masks from the hardware store or bandanas for protection from smoke. If you must be out in smoky conditions, an N95 respirator can protect you if it fits snugly to your face and is worn properly.
- Have a plan to evacuate. Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air-quality reports and public service announcements (PSAs). Public advisories can provide important information such as changing smoke conditions and evacuation notices. Know your evacuation routes, organize your important items ahead of time, and know where to go in case you have to evacuate.