Smoke should disperse over weekend

Saturday , September 22, 2012 - 6:57 AM

Contributed

Clearer skies are on the way to southern Idaho and northern Utahthanks to a weather system moving in from thethe West Coast.

Joel Tannenholz, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boise, said an upper-level low pressure system will help get rid of some smoke at higher elevations. On Sunday, the system will be centered over Oregon, he said.

"By that time we’re thinking most of that smoke is going to be mixed out and be taken out of the area, away from southern Idaho," he said.

Some precipitation is also possible in the low pressure system, which would help clear smoke out of the area.

Most of the smokehas be draingdown from central Idaho, Tannenholz said. Some smoke is coming from wildfires in central Washington as well, he said.

Very little air circulation this time of year tends to trap smoke under temperature inversions, Tannenholz said.

Friday, a stage one air quality advisory was issued by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for south-central Idaho. Mandatory bans on open burning were issued for Twin Falls, Blaine, Camas, Jerome, Lincoln, Gooding, Cassia and Minidoka counties. Friday and today’s air quality forecasts were moderate to unhealthy. When unhealthy air quality is reached, the DEQ cautions everyone should limit exertion whether indoors or outdoors.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare released a cautionary statement Friday afternoon telling the public to limit their exposure to wildfire smoke this weekend.

"It’s getting more difficult to escape areas with poor air quality because it’s so widespread, so it’s important to be aware and adjust your level of exertion if you’re outdoors this weekend," Jim Vannoy, health program manager for Health and Welfare, said in the statement.

Smoke can cause coughing and shortness of breath in everyone. But older adults, infants, children and people with medical conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease are more affected.

People who use inhalers should keep them nearby, according to Health and Welfare. People who have uncontrolled coughing, wheezing or choking, or whose breathing difficulty continues once they are indoors should seek medical treatment.

Running an air conditioner, drinking plenty of water, avoiding heavy work and using a portable air filter with a HEPA filter can help reduce exposure to smoke, according to Health and Welfare.

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