As Boise Is Surrounded By Wildfires, Smoke Could Be Here For Weeks

Jul 17, 2014

The foothills were barely visible from southeast Boise Thursday morning.
The foothills were barely visible from southeast Boise Thursday morning.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Smoke is settling in the Treasure Valley from wildfires burning in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Canada. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is forecasting moderate to unhealthy air conditions for the next couple of days. 

"We’ll see higher levels in the early morning hours and before lunch," says DEQ's Michael Toole, "and hopefully if that pattern continues, we’ll see clearing in the afternoons which will give us some relief."

Toole says northwest winds and early morning inversions mean smoke will settle in the valley. By mid-afternoon, he says winds tend to shift, lifting the inversion and pulling the wildfire smoke out of the valley.

He says because the Treasure Valley is currently surrounded by wildfires, and it’s still early in the fire season, smoke could continue to fill the air for the next couple of months.

This satellite image from the National Weather Service shows areas of smoke on July 17.
This satellite image from the National Weather Service shows areas of smoke on July 17.
Credit National Weather Service Boise

"And with the predominant wind pushing most of that smoke towards us, until those fires are contained and put out, and take into account the possibility of new fires as well with dry conditions and any thunderstorms that might come through, this might be the situation for the next month or two off and on," says Toole.

The smoky conditions are especially hard on children, the elderly and people with respiratory or pulmonary diseases. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says those sensitive groups should limit outdoor activity when air quality declines. Even healthy people should avoid heavy work or outdoor exercise when the air quality index becomes unhealthy.

The DEQ's hourly air monitor is a good resource to check air particulate levels.

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