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Tropical storm pushes wildfire smoke into Southwest Colorado

Monsoonal moisture expected to return midweek
Hazy skies obscured distant mountains looking north from Durango on Monday. The National Weather Service said the hazy skies are a result of wildfires burning in Texas and New Mexico. (Shane Benjamin/Durango Herald)

Southwest Colorado residents awoke Monday to hazy skies.

It is likely the result of Tropical Storm Hilary shifting winds and blowing wildfire smoke from Texas and New Mexico into the region, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

“We've had gusty winds from the southeast from Hilary, that tropical system to the west,” said Matthew Aleksa, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We're not getting the rain like California, but we're getting the wind.”

A high-pressure system sitting over the Southwest is pushing winds east and north in a clockwise pattern, causing air to move up from Texas and New Mexico, he said.

“There are some pretty big fires out in Texas and New Mexico,” Aleksa said. “... The pattern of those winds and the strength of those winds from Tropical Storm Hilary that's moving across the Western United States, combined with the high pressure directing the smoke, I think it's bringing up the smoke, transporting it from that distance across the Four Corners.”

The high-pressure system is blocking moisture from the tropical storm from reaching the Four Corners, he said. Instead, the moisture is traveling north toward the Pacific Northwest and into Canada.

Once Hilary moves into Canada, the high-pressure system will shift to the east, allowing a return of monsoonal moisture midweek this week, Aleksa said.

“So we will see increasing moisture but it won't be from Hillary, but rather it would be from the normal monsoonal moisture that we tend to get this time of year in spurts,” he said.


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