Haze from California wildfires to clear Saturday | ParkRecord.com
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Haze from California wildfires to clear Saturday

Officials say the smoke lingering in the air is coming from forest fires burning in California, but that a cold front may clear it out this weekend.
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

The haze lingering in Summit County skies has made for some incredible sunsets lately, but it may have irritated people who are sensitive to the smoke particulates hanging in the air.

Air quality experts say that the majority of the smoke is coming from the forest fires that have consumed more than 4 million acres in California. Most of the smoke from the East Fork Fire, which has burned about 70,000 acres in the high Uinta Mountains about 30 miles east of Kamas, is heading east, officials said.

The haze will likely stick around in some form throughout the week, said National Weather Service meteorologist Christine Kruse, but a significant cold front moving in Saturday night into Sunday will probably take the smoke along with it as it passes through.

As of Tuesday, that storm was expected to drop temperatures by about 30 degrees and bring snow to elevations above 7,000 feet, Kruse said.

She added that those in the western Uinta Basin might be feeling more of the effects of the East Fork Fire. The smoke from that blaze lingers during the day and then moves up and out of the basin as temperatures warm throughout the day.

Nate Brooks, Summit County’s Environmental Health Director, said the county monitors air quality routinely and has purchased more than a dozen monitoring stations. It sends the data to the air monitoring website purpleair.com.

“We invite people to check the purple air readings and make an educated assessment on where the levels are and what outdoor activities they engage in,” Brooks wrote in an email to The Park Record. “… The conditions as I mentioned are not unusual for this time of year in drought conditions, but we are all certainly hoping for some much needed moisture (to) lessen the impacts of the current conditions.”

Some groups are at increased risk for health impacts from the haze, including people with preexisting heart or lung conditions or asthma, said Jared Mendenhall, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

“Our recommendation during periods (of potentially dangerous air quality) is that you definitely want to, especially if you’re in one off those sensitive groups … avoid heavy exertion outside. Move indoors. Reschedule activities for when time is better,” Mendenhall said, speaking last month after a particularly acute smoke event.

Brooks said that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has set a threshold for particulates in the air and that the air in Summit County has recently exceeded that. But he added that is not unusual for this time of year, especially under drought conditions.


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