As California’s wine country burns, the surrounding area in the San Francisco Bay Area is filling with smoke.
Even 60 miles south of the deadly fires, San Francisco and nearby cities are dealing with terrible air quality. The polluted air is more than noticeable with the hazy views, orange-filtered sunlight, and a gauzy layer of opaque air hovering on the horizon. A slight burnt smell lingers.
This situation is one of the worst the region has seen with weather experts noting air quality has never reached these levels.
Wow. Thanks to the wildfires, yesterday was the worst air quality ever measured in the Bay Area (PM2.5 monitoring began recently, in 2009). https://t.co/ajglBb5Cvt
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 11, 2017
A rare hazardous level warning even went out. And the polluted air is expected to persist for days. The fires started Sunday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency index bumped up the San Francisco area to an orange level, meaning it’s considered unhealthy to sensitive groups like children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, emphysema, and heart disease.
As of 6 p.m. PT, the city was put in the yellow, or “moderate,” zone. Closer to the fire epicenters, air quality reached hazardous levels — a rare occurrence.
With elevated levels of fine particulate matter in the entire region, everyone in the area needs to be careful about spending time outdoors, especially exercising.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a health advisory Tuesday and is keeping it in effect through the weekend. It’s recommending that those sensitive groups be the most cautious.
For those closer to the flames, residents are advised to stay inside and find filtered air. In more extreme cases, people are advised to leave the area altogether. If people stick around, the air district advised putting on an N95 mask to filter out fine particles in the air.
People sported their mask looks online. The forecast for the next week is mild and warm, dry, and not very windy. Not helpful for quelling the multiple wildfires.
Air quality officials are warning everyone in the region to think about the air they are breathing. School districts made plans to hold indoor recesses, PE classes, and sports practices.
If you are experiencing smoky conditions in your area, here are some recommendations:
– Stay indoors
– Avoid outdoor activities and any strenuous exercises
– Keep doors and windows closed
– Run air conditioners on recycled air so that smoke is not drawn in
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 11, 2017
The fires have been horrific, killing people and destroying homes, neighborhoods, businesses, farms, and vineyards.