Massive smoke plume over Boise

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:19 PM


BOISE -- The citycould be in for one of the smokiest days of the year Thursday - which is saying something in the 2012 summer of smoke - but the air quality might remain in the moderate range if that smoke stays up high in the atmosphere.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, there was so much smoke in the upper atmosphere over the Treasure Valley the sun resembled an orange dot in the sky instead of the blazing hammer it normally is on most summer mornings.

The reason is a massive plume of smoke that moved into the Treasure Valley from the 40,000 acre Wenatchee wildfire complex burning in central Washington.

At 10 a.m. visibility at the Boise Airport was only three miles, according to National Weather Service reports.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has forecasted a yellow (moderate) air quality day in the Treasure Valley Thursday.

Even though the air in Boise looked like it was imported from London Thursday morning, a DEQ monitoring station at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center measured a 82 air quality index (AQI) rating for pollutants, which puts air quality right in the yellow range.

That’s because there is a lot of smoke in the upper atmosphere - the air quality is better closer to the ground. That could change if that smoke moves closer as the day goes on. National Weather Service reports indicate the smoke will likely stick around all day.

The Idaho City area registered a orange AQI rating of 112 at 8 a.m., which puts the air quality in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range as firefighters continue to battle the Karney Fire.

Like many days this summer, Treasure Valley residents should be thankful they don’t live in Ketchum, which had an orange AQI rating Thursday morning, or McCall or Salmon, which had red AQI ratings, which means the air is unhealthy for everyone.

The estimated high temperature for the Boise area Thursday is 85 degrees, according to National Weather Service reports.

That means thousands of football fans filling up Bronco Stadium should expect a more baseball-like weather night.

The temperature inside Bronco Stadium at the 7 p.m. kickoff should be in the low 80s and is expected to drop to the low 70s or high 60s by the second half when the sun goes down, according to National Weather Service reports. Winds will be light, between 5-to-10 mph, so it should be a pleasant night to sit in the stands.

It’s unclear if any of the smoke hanging over Boise like a blanket Thursday morning will be gone by gametime.

The weather forecast through the weekend shows pretty much the same deal as Thursday - so expect highs in the high 80s or low 90s, with sun and smoke.


)2012 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

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