The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has once again extended its health caution in Blaine County and seven surrounding counties due to degraded air quality from circulating wildfire smoke, largely from California.
As of 1 p.m. on Monday, the air quality in Ketchum was rated as “unhealthy for sensitive groups” on the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 113. Around that same time Monday, the National Weather Service issued an air pollution caution for Blaine County stating that older adults, children and those with lung conditions should limit prolonged outdoor activity.
“Air quality may fluctuate between unhealthy for sensitive groups and unhealthy for all … An increase in symptoms of asthma and other respiratory ailments are likely,” the Weather Service stated.
Both the DEQ and Weather Service advisories will remain in effect until air quality has significantly improved.
In a Monday morning forecast, Idaho DEQ Smoke Analyst Sally Hunter summed up the weekend as “pretty smoky” in the southern portion of the state.
“Waves of smoke are expected to continue to stream into southern Idaho from numerous large wildfires around the area, mainly in northern and central California,” she stated. “Much of this smoke will remain aloft during the day, allowing air quality to improve slightly each afternoon.
“However, expect a continued pattern of smoke settling to the surface as the sun sets resulting in degraded air quality through the night and into the morning.”
Hunter said areas south of the Salmon River will be the most heavily impacted by smoke, which is expected to track north into northern Idaho Monday afternoon.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ California Wildfires Map, the SCU, LNU, CZU and August Lightning Complex fires in north and central California charred nearly 1 million acres since last week. The map also depicts heavy smoke in the Wood River Valley and Snake River Plain.