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Smoke warning continues to harry Bay Area [Update]

Butte County fire sends haze all the way to the bay

Smoke From Western Wildfires Triggers Air Quality Warnings In San Francisco Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Update, November 12: On Monday morning, the EPA’s AirNow site records absolutely terrible air conditions throughout the Bay Area, with San Francisco marked at 163 on the AQI scale and most of the peninsula, East Bay, and Marin County suffering similarly terrible conditions.

Air quality is only slightly better in the area around San Jose and Santa Rosa—there the EPA indicates that conditions are “Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups” like the very young, very old, or people already ill, compared to SF air, which is presently rated unhealthy for everybody.

The areas just north of Antioch and around Woodland are even worse, with AQI scores of more than 200 and deemed “Very Unhealthy.”

Smoke from the Camp Fire continues to pour across almost the entire north state. The only good news is that the current forecast predicts some of the haze will dissipate later in the day for most of the region, but it will sill remain within the “Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups” spectrum for now.

The growing Camp Fire in Butte County has created a toxic haze of smoke that’s drifted across huge swaths of Northern California, pushing San Francisco’s air quality into dangerous regions. Officials for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the entire Bay Area.

“Any relief is going to be minimal,” says National Weather Service Bay Area Meteorologist Carolina Walbrun. “As the fire continues to burn, the winds are going to continue to push that smoke aloft over San Francisco and the Bay Area.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s [EPA] AirNow site rates the level of potentially harmful particles in the air at 181 as of Friday morning.

For context, San Francisco usually enjoys some of the best air quality in America, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) rating below 50 most days. By comparison, perpetually smoggy Beijing’s AQI often hovers around 200 (although Friday morning they sit at just 57).

SF’s current 181 is designated “unhealthy” for everyone in the region.

The EPA recommends some basic steps to minimize potential harm. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and teens are recommended take any of these steps to reduce exposure:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Keep outdoor activities short.
  • Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.
  • Everyone else—take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:
  • Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.
  • Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.

AirNow predicts that hazard levels may diminish as the day goes on and drop down to the 120s, with “moderate” air quality (the second lowest level on the EPA scale) predicted for the next three or four days, although just like predicting the weather these forecasts may change.

The rest of the Bay Area is suffering similar effects, ranging from a low of “potentially unhealthy” in San Jose Friday morning (101 AQI) up to 189 in Santa Rosa.

Bay Area residents should keep doors and windows closed and minimize time outside, as fire conditions will likely persist for several more days.

Update: Spare the Air Alert has been called for today through Monday, November 1.