Fire season arrived early this year. More than 200 wildland fires are burning across several parched provinces in western Canada with almost a quarter of those fires out of control. Tens of thousands …
Fire season arrived early this year. More than 200 wildland fires are burning across several parched provinces in western Canada with almost a quarter of those fires out of control. Tens of thousands of Canadian residents have been forced to evacuate.
Last Wednesday a cold front moved in over the northwestern U.S., pushing smoke in, including most of Wyoming, according to Trevor LaVoie, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton.
Smoke was thick in Casper during the state track championships, causing health issues with some athletes and spectators — especially those with compromised health from conditions like asthma. Here in Powell, views of local mountain ranges were obscured by the smoke, and worsened by Monday.
But there is good news coming, LaVoie said.
“There is a system that’s over the Pacific Northwest [Monday] that will be bringing a trough over Montana and then swinging through our area,” he said.
That should largely move the smoke out of our area, he said. There will also be increasing chances of showers and thunderstorms over the western mountains as a result of the trough, and with the upper air flow moving in from the southwest, it should help to disperse the smoke, he said. There is a 20%-30% chance of thunderstorms through the week.
“Cody would probably have better chances [of seeing precipitation]. But certainly Powell could see some of that activity coming off the mountain and being hit … and could help disperse the smoke,” he said.
However, it’s possible heavy smoke could return to the area in the future. The fires in Canada are expected to continue growing, according to longterm forecasts in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta of continued heat with little precipitation, the Canadian Forest Service said.
“During a wildfire, smoke can make the outdoor air unhealthy to breathe,” according to a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency. “Local officials may advise you to stay indoors during a smoke event. You should be aware that some of the smoke from outdoors can enter your home and make it unhealthy to breathe indoor air, too.”
Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system — whether you are outdoors or indoors, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles also can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases — and even are linked to premature deaths in people with these conditions.
The EPA offers the following suggestions:
• Keep windows and doors closed. Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool. If you cannot stay cool, seek shelter elsewhere.
• Reduce the smoke that enters your home. If you have an HVAC system with a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode, or close the outdoor intake damper.
• If you have an evaporative cooler, avoid using it unless there is a heat emergency because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you must use the evaporative cooler, take advantage of times when outdoor air quality improves, even temporarily, to open windows and air out the house.
• If you have a window air conditioner, close the outdoor air damper. If you cannot close the damper, do not use the window air conditioner. Make sure that the seal between the air conditioner and the window is as tight as possible.
• If you have a portable air conditioner with a single hose, typically vented out of a window, do not use it in smoky conditions because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you have a portable air conditioner with two hoses, make sure that the seal between the window vent kit and the window is as tight as possible.