ST. GEORGE – Hazy air is blanketing the sky over Southern Utah this week, becoming especially noticeable Wednesday. But officials say the local air quality is now at a moderate level.
The haze being seen across Southern Utah is coming from wildfires burning across northern California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Seaman said.
“Smoke from wild fires could cause high concentrations of particulates in populated areas,” according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality website.
“If smoke becomes thick, persons with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity,” the DEQ warning said.
For most of the summer, Southern Utah has had a southerly weather flow, which has brought air up from Arizona. So, while the fires across the West have been burning for months, the smoke has been carried away from Utah, Seaman said.
However, in the last week or so, the flow has changed to north-northwest.
“And that’s kind of brought that smoke from the wildfires into the Great Basin and the desert Southwest,” Seaman said.
The smoke hit the Wasatch Front three days ago, Seaman said, and a weak cold front pushed more smoke into Southern Utah.
The haze is expected to last a few more days until the weather switches back to a west, then southwest flow, he said.
“You’ll likely see an improvement during the weekend and into early next week,” Seaman said.
- Utah Department of Environmental Quality air quality forecast
- Utah Department of Environmental Quality AirNow website
- Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force Web page
- What the haze? National Weather Service explains strange haze over So. Utah
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