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Why is it so hazy outside?

Smoke from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington makes for a colorful sunrise over Durango on Friday morning.
Smoke from western wildfires engulfs western Colorado

Residents of western Colorado woke up Saturday morning to hazy skies in every direction, the result of fires closer to the West Coast.

“When we had that big monsoonal surge out of the southwest, we didn’t really see that smoke from the western wildfires, but the winds have shifted and that’s now bringing all that smoke from the California, Oregon and Washington wildfires southeast, right across western Colorado,” said Jeff Colton, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “So we’re all getting engulfed in that smoke.”

A hazardous weather outlook issued by the weather service Saturday morning said, “High pressure building into the region will result in warm and dry weather today. However, smoke from wildfires in northern California and the Pacific Northwest will lead to poor air quality and reduced visibility at times.”

The smoke is expected to linger in the near future.

“Based on the current weather pattern, it’s going to be with us off and on through the next week,” Colton said. “Most likely, we’ll see periods of very smoky conditions and then it will thin out at times and get a bit better, but then there will be more periods of dense smoke. It's just going to be coming and going off and on most likely through at least Wednesday of next week.”

Smoke from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington reduces visibility in Durango on Saturday morning.

The weather outlook said precipitation chances remain low, but increasing moisture late in the week and beyond will likely lead to the development of more widespread showers and thunderstorms, particularly in the higher elevations.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an air quality health advisory for wildfire smoke.

“If you have respiratory illnesses or heart diseases, you may consider limiting your outdoor activities and kind of staying indoors, especially with young kids and the elderly,” Colton said.

Smoke from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington reduces visibility in Durango and the Animas Valley on Saturday morning. (Nick Gonzales/Durango Herald)

The CDPHE advisory suggests that people consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present and consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and making people feel ill. If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy, it said.


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