Smoke may begin lifting today and Friday
Smoky skies could start to clear Thursday, National Weather Service forecaster Norv Larson said Wednesday, when high pressure in the area is expected to weaken.
A 30 percent chance of rain is also forecast for Friday, which could help clear the air.
But much of western Colorado remained hazy Wednesday, mostly from smoke from fires in other states.
As of 8 a.m., Garfield County was still under a “moderate” air quality health advisory.
Morgan Hill, an environmental health specialist at the Garfield County Public Health , said air quality Wednesday was originally forecasted to be in the “unhealthy” range for sensitive groups, one level above “moderate.” But levels at all three Garfield County testing sites on Wednesday came back as “moderate.”
Hill said Thursday forecasts are similar, but recommends precautions remain the same.
“Everyone should be aware of air quality in their area,” Hill said, advising that if people are unaware to see five miles ahead on the horizon that they should limit their time outdoors.
“If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors,” according to the CDPHE website. “This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.”
The CDPHE website said that the areas with heaviest smoke impact will be directly downwind from wildfires in Routt County, including the Steamboat Springs area.
Overall, Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, Delta, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in northwest and west-central Colorado were under an wildfire smoke health advisory.
“Areas of heavy smoke will also be possible for the local valleys of the advisory area where smoke will be slow to dissipate during the day on Wednesday, and will likely redevelop Wednesday night,” the website said.
Air quality status is updated hourly on the Garfield County website.
The above animation, provided by the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, shows the near surface smoke forecast for the area.