Current Wildfire Smoke Info
Smoke Forecast: Friday, August 28 through Monday, August 31, 2015
Air quality is currently ranging from Good to Moderate in southern Idaho and Moderate to Hazardous across northern Idaho with higher impacts across the Clearwater Basin drainage, northern Panhandle, and Salmon-Challis area. Air quality is forecast to remain in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Unhealthy category for the 24-hour standard across central and northern Idaho today and into this weekend. Impacts are from regional fires burning in Washington state, California, Oregon, and a multitude of local fires in the Clearwater drainage, northern Panhandle, and central Idaho mountains.
Nez Perce Reservation: 24-hour monitor readings range from Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Hazardous. Hourly readings are fluctuating from Moderate to Hazardous, depending on location and wind direction. The Nez Perce Tribe will continue their air quality advisory. Please contact the Nez Perce Tribe for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The strongest smoke impacts are occurring across the Clearwater drainages, central Idaho mountains, and the northern Panhandle. This will continue tonight and become even stronger on Saturday as high winds provide an increase to fire activity across the Columbia Plateau and into central and northern Idaho. Expect to experience impacts from the Canada border south to the Salmon River corridor with some drainage impacts into the McCall and Garden Valley areas tonight. The highest impacts are expected to be within the drainages of the Clearwater, Salmon, Lochsa, down into the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. The northern tier of the Purcell Trench will also continue to experience high impacts throughout the entire weekend. In southern Idaho, impacts will be greatest within the drainages around McCall and Garden Valley and generally north of a line running from Weiser to Salmon. Conditions have generally improved across southern Idaho with values in the Good and Moderate range across all monitors, except for McCall and Salmon, which are reading Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups and Hazardous, respectively. Nighttime drainage smoke will continue to provide impacts in regions near and downwind of the fires. Impacts in the central Idaho region will continue to be quite strong as winds will serve to increase fire activity on Saturday. As a result of increased fire activity, strong impacts are also expected to occur within the Purcell Trench across the Rathdrum Prairie and north into Canada with more clearing over the open expanses. Read more.
Air Quality Advisories
- Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah counties through August 31 at 12 p.m. when it will be extended or lifted.
- Latah, Nez Perce, Lewis, Clearwater, Idaho Counties, river corridors and surrounding areas (off the Nez Perce Reservation) through August 31 at 10 a.m. when it will be extended or lifted.
- Lemhi and Custer County until August 31 at 3 p.m. when it will be extended or lifted.
Air Quality Monitors
The U.S. Forest Service installed monitors in Riggins, Halfway, Oregon, and Newport, Washington. The information can be found at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl. Users should be aware that the Forest Service site reports the data in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). To convert from UTC to Mountain Daylight Time, subtract six hours.
- Riggins monitor is Smoke USFS R1-306
- Halfway monitor is Smoke #68
- Newport monitor is Smoke E-BAM 925
For air quality forecasts and wildfire activity for your area, visit the following websites:
- Daily Air Quality Reports and Forecasts webpage
- Real-Time Smoke Monitoring
- DEQ Near-Real Time Monitoring
- Inciweb - Information on wildfire activity
Please be aware of and utilize the Smoke Complaint Hotline at 1-800-345-1007.
Smoke forecasts are dependent on predicted fire growth and weather. If conditions change unexpectedly, impacts could occur.
Air Quality Conditions
Under Idaho’s Air Pollution Emergency Rule, DEQ may issue air quality alerts when pollutant levels reach levels that endanger public health. The alerts range from Stage 1 to 4, with each stage addressing a progressively more serious air quality event and triggering certain emergency actions.
Note: Idaho DEQ does not have jurisdiction within the five Indian Reservations in Idaho. For air quality information on the reservations, contact the individual Tribes.
Visual Smoke Observation
Smoke forecasts are dependent on predicted fire growth and weather. If conditions change unexpectedly, impacts could occur. When visibility starts to go below 5 miles, sensitive groups should minimize outdoor activities. Everyone else should minimize prolonged or physical activity outdoors. Refer to the Smoke and Health Tab on the Idaho Smoke Information Blog for additional health information.
Your eyes are your best tools to determine if it’s safe to be outside. Even if you smell smoke, the air quality may still be good.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Less than 1
How to estimate air quality based on visibility for areas without an air quality monitor or airport visibility estimate:
- Face away from the sun.
- Determine the limit of your visible range by looking for targets at known distances (miles).
- Visible range is that point at which even high contrast objects totally disappear.
- Use the values above to determine the local forest fire smoke category.
Health Impacts and Recommendations
Air Quality Guide for Pollution from Wildfire Smoke
A table identifying potential health effects and recommendations for appropriate exertion levels.
Recommendations for Schools and Others Responsible for Children during a Wildfire Smoke Event
A table identifying potential health effects and recommendations for childrens' exertion levels.
Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials (Revised July 2008)
A guide intended to help local public health officials adequately communicate health risks and precautions to the public when smoke is present.
Emergency Preparedness and Response: Wildfires
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website)
Information on health effects of smoke as well as other dangers associated with wildfires.
For general health questions regarding wildfire smoke, contact:
Jim Vannoy, MPH
Idaho Division of Public Health
Environmental Health Education and Assessment Program