It’s been a summer of bad air quality in Denver and the Front Range. Within the past couple of days, Denver has ranked within the top 10 cities for the worst air quality in the world and that could again be a reality for this weekend as a large batch of smoke traverses across Colorado.
The Dixie Fire in Northern California (which has burned over 400,000 acres and is one of California’s largest wildfires in state history), as well as multiple other blazes burning in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia in Canada, continue to produce an amazing amount of smoke that is turning the sky a hazy orange and keeping people inside. Our high air quality values this summer have largely been a product of the amount of ozone that gets trapped near the surface. The smoke has only been a fraction of why our air quality values have been heightened this season.
Come Saturday, it’ll be very apparent that smoke will be the main contributor to our poor air quality. Additionally, it’s supposed to be a very warm day with minimal winds so we will have high ozone levels as well which will probably make Saturday the worst air quality day of the year and will likely land Denver in a top spot for the worst air quality in the world.
The dome of smoke that is headed our way is currently over Nevada and Utah and as of earlier Friday morning, Salt Lake City had the worst air quality out of the major cities across the world.
Today brings a slight reprieve in the smoky and smoggy conditions but starting this evening, thick smoke will begin moving into western Colorado. By Saturday morning, most of the Front Range will be encompassed by that same thick smoke.
You’ll likely wake to hazy orange skies, you may be able to smell smoke and it’s not out of the question for there to be ash falling at times. That’s how intense this batch of smoke is.
With air quality values soaring to the levels they are expected to, you’ll want to be sure to stay inside or at least heavily limit the amount of time you spend outside. Air quality as poor as it’s expected to be on Saturday is bad for any group, not just those who are sensitive to these types of issues.
If we assume our air quality may be as bad as what Salt Lake City is seeing today, we’ll need to be ready to stay inside. If you go outside, it’s recommended to wear a mask to protect you from breathing in the pollutants. If you have any bike rides, hikes or work to do outside, you may want to reconsider since breathing the air on Saturday will have actual impacts on your breathing ability and efficiency.
Smoky conditions and high levels of ozone are expected to last through the weekend and possibly into early next week.
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