Smoke in Yampa Valley extends air quality advisory through Thursday

Smoke coming from fires in Idaho lingers over the Yampa Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, blocking the Flat Top Mountains from view.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7 as the air quality advisory was extended.

This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6 to include the air quality health advisory issued by the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division.

Several wildfires burning in Idaho are to blame for hazy skies across the Yampa Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and the smoke may stick around for a few days.

Air quality risks increased throughout the day on Tuesday, and as of 3:45 p.m., air quality sensors in Steamboat Springs were reporting readings that exceeded 100, according to PurpleAir. Earlier in the day, these readings were below 70.

These readings led to the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division issuing an air quality health advisory for wildfire smoke in seven Northwest Colorado counties including Routt. The advisory was extended in Routt, Jackson and Grand counties on Wednesday, Sept. 7 through 8 a.m. on Thursdsay, Sept. 8.

Readings in the Yampa Valley ranged from 70 to 120 early Wednesday.

Readings from 101 to 150 mean people susceptible to air pollution may start to feel effects after 24 hours of exposure, though the general public is “less likely to be affected.”

An air quality index of 50 to 100 is deemed “acceptable,” though there is some risk after 24 hours of exposure, especially to people who are more susceptible to air pollution.

The air quality advisory recommends people stay inside if they see thick smoke in their neighborhood, especially those those who are very young or old, or have heart disease or respiratory illness.

“If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy,” the advisory says.

The smoke is blowing south from fires in Idaho.

“There are some fires in the Idaho area,” said Dan Cuevas, a hydrometeorological technician with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “We’re not looking for any real pattern change through midweek, so as long as the fires are burning, you’re going to continue to get smoke at least for the next few days.”

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While there are no fires burning in Colorado, Idaho has several, according to the incident tracking website InciWeb. The largest is the Moose fire that has burned more than 107,000 acres and is 44% contained. There are at least eight other fires larger than 1,500 acres burning in central Idaho.

Air quality in Steamboat Springs has worsened throughout the day Tuesday, Sept. 6. Readings from PurpleAir now show readings above 100.

The advisory anticipates smoke will remain in Northwest Colorado until at least Wednesday morning.

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