A huge plume of smoke is heading our way and will bring with it one of the worst qualities of air in the world.
The summer has been poor air quality in Denver and the Front Range. Over the past two days, Denver has made it into the top 10 cities for the worst air quality in the world and that could be a reality again for this weekend as a large batch of smoke crosses Colorado.
Smoke from California wildfires pushing east.
View from above this morning. pic.twitter.com/hhxAvgEjkq
– CIRA (@CIRA_CSU) August 6, 2021
The Dixie Fire in northern California (which burned over 400,000 acres and is one of the largest California wildfires in state history), along with several other fires in the Northwestern Pacific and British Columbia in Canada, continue to produce an incredible amount of smoke that turns the skies a hazy orange and keeps people inside. Our high air quality readings this summer are largely the product of the amount of ozone that is trapped near the surface. Smoke has been only a fraction of the reasons our air quality values have been raised this season.
Come Saturday, it will be very obvious that smoke will be the main contributor to our poor air quality. Also, it’s supposed to be a very hot day with minimal winds so we’ll have high ozone levels as well, which will likely make Saturday the worst air quality day of the year and will likely set Denver tops for the worst air quality in the world.
The smoke dome heading our way is currently over Nevada and Utah and on Friday morning Salt Lake City had the worst air quality among major cities in the world.
BREAKAGE: According to @IQAir at 11:19 am… Salt Lake City looks the most polluted of any major city in the world. The massive plume of smoke causing this is heading to Colorado from later today / tonight. #COwx # 4wx pic.twitter.com/2YM4hA2Lxd
– Chris Spears (@ ChrisCBS4) August 6, 2021
Today brings a slight respite from the smoky and smoggy conditions, but as of tonight heavy smoke will begin to move across western Colorado. By Saturday morning, most of the Front Range will be shrouded in that same thick smoke.
Latest smoke forecast: We will see improvement until today 😃, but another plume will arrive late tonight through Saturday. 😢
– NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) August 6, 2021
You will probably wake up to a hazy orange sky, you may be able to smell the smoke and it is not excluded that sometimes ashes fall. This is the intensity of this batch of smoke.
With air quality readings hitting expected levels, you’ll want to make sure you stay indoors or at least severely limit the time you spend outdoors. The air quality as bad as expected on Saturday is bad for any group, not just for those who are susceptible to these kinds of problems.
If we assume that our air quality can be as bad as what Salt Lake City is seeing today, we will have to be prepared to stay indoors. If you go out, it is recommended that you wear a mask to protect yourself from inhaling pollutants. If you have bike rides, hikes, or work to do outdoors, you may want to reconsider your decision as breathing air on Saturdays will have real impacts on your breathing capacity and efficiency.
Smoky conditions and high ozone levels are expected to last through the weekend and possibly until early next week.