Smoke

National Weather Service

The air quality in the Treasure Valley has dropped from good to moderate, thanks to a change in winds that’s bringing in smoke from the south. The National Weather Service in Boise reports the sudden influx of smoke into Idaho is due to a change in the wind pattern.

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."

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

Wednesday’s air quality forecast in the Treasure Valley is for “moderate” conditions, which can cause health issues for some people with respiratory problems.

It’s been that way for several days now mainly because of ozone pollution, not wildfire smoke. Ozone is the most common reason for bad air during Idaho summers, but last year was a different story says Michael Toole with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This time last year, Boise author Alan Heathcock gave two of his former students the green light to turn one of his stories into a film. Now, that film has wrapped up production. Here are some of the people behind the filming of Smoke.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

There’s something breathtaking about watching a real-life cowboy ride his horse through this green pasture near McCall, Idaho.

This Roy Rogers – not the 50’s era icon – is Alan Heathcock’s version of the star. The actor pulls the reigns gently, swings to the ground, and saunters over to a young man leaning half-dazed against an aspen tree.  

"Hey, Vernon," he says.

"Hey Roy. She's a hot one, ain't she?" asks the young man.

"It's hotter than a bull's breath out here."  

Vince Patton / OPB

About a dozen wildfires are still burning in the Northwest keeping the air hazy and unhealthy. But experts predict few, if any, long-term health effects.

Matthew Kadlec is a toxicologist for Washington’s Department of Ecology. He says the wildfire smoke in much of the Northwest isn’t enough to worry most healthy adults. But in many areas there is concern for seniors, children and people who have asthma or illnesses.

In fact, Kadlec says in Wenatchee the smoke particulates are worse than a certain sprawling California city.

Jeff Penman / InciWeb

Wildfire smoke is becoming the “new normal” for some parts of the Northwest. In central Washington, health officials are urging residents to keep their doors and windows closed and stay inside. Bad air has forced at least one school district to take some unusual measures to keep class in session.

The town of Cashmere is at the geographic center of Washington –- and about 8 miles from one of the state’s largest wildfires. Cashmere schools closed last week due to hazardous air, both inside and outside classrooms.

Now, school is back in session. With a few modifications.

Jim Larson / Flickr

The fight against numerous large fires in central Washington is turning the corner. Since the weekend, fire bosses have been able to release nearly 400 firefighters from the blazes near Wenatchee.

But forecasters say it may be a while before the Inland Northwest sees clear, blue skies again.

U.S. Forest Service researcher Miriam Rorig  says smoke projections show poor conditions east of the Cascades hanging on through the week and spreading into north Idaho.

Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

The air quality has not been good today in the Treasure Valley, but it’s not as bad as it looks. The sky has had a yellow brown tinge to it making it look worse than it is according to Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality. Dave Luft, a DEQ air-shed manager, says you can’t always judge the air quality by the sky.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

An official with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the Treasure Valley is experiencing the worst air quality since a bad winter inversion in 2002. Smoke from wildfires around the region have kept the air quality index between 101 and 150 for several days. That’s the orange category. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

There’s been a haze over southwest Idaho since Monday evening from several fires in the region. The air quality in the Treasure Valley Tuesday falls in the moderate range. Dave Luft with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says that’s considered safe for most people.