By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The smoke currently hanging over Wyoming will likely be around for more than a week, according to meteorologist Don Day.
Day told Cowboy State Daily on Monday the smoke the state has been seeing over the last few days is coming from wildfires in California and Oregon and will likely be around for another week to 10 days.
“This time of year, we have very weak winds aloft and the jetstream winds are up in Canada,” Day explained. “So when there’s a fire, the smoke spreads out and there’s very little wind to push it away quickly, so it’s kind of like a stagnant air mass.”
The 500,000-acre Dixie Fire, which is causing a good portion of the smoke in the area, has been burning in California for nearly one month and is only 21% contained.
Day said for the smoke to clear, the fire needs to be either reduced or contained and/or wind speeds need to pick up.
“The bad news is for the next week, I don’t see a real significant change in the upper level winds, nor do I see any significant change in the ability for them to get those northern California fires under control,” he said.
According to the Wyoming Air Quality Division, the smoke across most of the state could have a “moderate” impact on the health of residents. At such levels, people who are unusually sensitive to air contamination shoujld consider avoiding prolonged or heavy exertion.
However, the Kemmerer area’s air quality was considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, meaning that people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
Day said a person’s reaction to the smoke will depend on his or her immune system, adding he knows of some people who have complained of allergies caused by the smoke.
Some people have also reported smelling smoke, which Day attributed to wild grassfires burning in Wyoming and Nebraska, which also add to the smoke in the air from the wildfires.
According to fire tracking website Inciweb, three fires burning in Wyoming were large enough to be tracked as of Monday, ranging from a 96-acre fire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest to the a 1,258-acre fire in the Bighorn National Forest. Inciweb does not include small grass fires or other incidents of that nature.
“Eventually the smoke will go away,” Day said.