CHICO, Calif. - Smoky air spreads across Northern California from the Hog and Gold fires in Lassen county, but most of it remains harmless, thousands of feet in the sky, unless you are in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
If you look up into the sky, you might notice its not completely blue. Its kind of a grey, white, blue haze. What you are seeing is actuallly smoke thousands of feet up in the air from the Hog and Gold fires in Lassen county.
Don't worry. This smoke is too high up to affect you if you are anywhere in the Sacramento Valley and even the Foothills. The smoke is originating from very high up in the mountains and is carried by winds, which are mostly carrying the smoke east and south, not west.
What smoke does make it to our area is too high up to affect our air quality. However, it should bring some pretty sunsets.
If you are in the mountains, you will notice worse air quality at night and in the morning than in the day. This is because an inversion layer forms where cold air gets trapped on the ground and warm air stays aloft, since the sun no longer heats the surface.This inversion layer acts like a barrier, keeping the smoke trapped on the ground, preventing it from mixing higher into the atmosphere.
This is not a problem during the day when the smoke is allowed to mix, but can still be an issue if you are close enough to the fire.
Current air quality is good to moderate in the valley & foothills but it gets very unhealthy in areas near the fires and is even unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Tahoe and Reno areas since that is where winds are carrying the majority of the smoke.
If you are in a smoky area, the Butte County Air Quality Management District has some advice for you.
"If you have to be outside for a long period of time then don't exert yourself if you don't have to. If you are out jogging or exercising or doing really hard work, your rate of breathing goes up, so the amount of smoke you are inhaling also goes up. So if you have to be outside, just try to do low energy work." - Jason Mandly, Air Quality Planner at Butte County Air Quality Management District.
Smoke can exacerbate existing conditions such as C.O.P.D., Bronchitis, Asthma and even the Coronavirus. Prolonged exposure can cause itchy, watery eyes, shortness of breathe, coughing and wheezing.
Make sure if you are outside in smoke you wear an N95 mask, not a surgical mask or bandana. These can not filter out fine smoke partlices which are hazardous to your health.
Here are some good maps to track air quality in your area:
There is also a myriad of resources from your local air quality district:
Butte County Air Quality Management District (Butte Co.)
Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (Plumas, Sierra, Nevada Co.)
Lassen County Air Pollution Control District (Lassen Co.)
Modoc County Air Pollution Control District (Modoc Co.)
Siskiyou County Air Pollution Control District (Siskiyou Co.)
Shasta County Air Quality Management District (Shasta Co.)
North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (Trinity, Humboldt, Del Norte Co.)
Tehama County Air Pollution Control District (Tehama Co.)
Glenn County Air Pollution Control District (Glenn Co.)
Colusa County Air Pollution Control District (Colusa Co.)
Feather River Air Quality Management District (Yuba, Sutter Co.)