Why is the air so smoky in eastern Idaho? - East Idaho News

Why is the air so smoky in eastern Idaho?

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IDAHO FALLS – Haze and smoke are blanketing the skies of eastern Idaho Thursday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Pocatello attributes the cause to wildfires in Alberta, Canada. About 91 wildfires are burning in forest areas as hot and dry conditions bring an early start to wildfire season, according to Reuters.

“It’s coming from fires in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. They’ve been under severe drought, so fires are raging,” NWS Meteorologist Travis Wyatt tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We have a strong northerly flow (of wind) right now, which is bringing it right to us.”

An air quality advisory is in place for Clark, Fremont, Lemhi and Madison counties, as of 4 p.m. The Department of Environmental Quality’s rating for these areas is 114, which means it may be unhealthy for sensitive groups. It isn’t likely to have a drastic impact on the general public.

The air quality in the Idaho Falls-Pocatello area is moderate, according to the DEQ’s air quality monitor, and it improves the farther west you look.

Hazy conditions are expected to last through Saturday. Wyatt says the wind will change directions on Saturday afternoon, which will improve the air quality significantly.

“The model we’re using (for the air quality outlook) shows the smoke (remaining) over us through tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. It should be out by Saturday afternoon,” he says.

By late Saturday or early Sunday, Wyatt is projecting clouds and rain will move through the area, which will “push all that smoke out of here.”

“There’ll be some lingering smoke, but it will definitely be cleared up by Sunday and probably by Saturday,” says Wyatt.

The next air quality update will happen Friday at 3 p.m. See the latest conditions through the DEQ’s real-time monitor here. Visit the EastIdahoNews.com weather page for a complete forecast.