Since this summer of smoke began in early August, youve been able to count the days where Boise didnt feel like an ashtray on one hand.
Well, breathe in deep, Treasure Valleyans. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has issued a green air quality forecast for Boise Wednesday, which means air quality is expected to be in the good range. That has only happened five times since Aug. 5, according to DEQ records.
The Boise area has been surrounded by wildfires since early August and keeps getting smoke pumped in from blazes burning in California and Oregon during the day. More smoke leaks down into the Valley overnight from the massive fires near Stanley, Featherville and Salmon.
The Treasure Valley caught a break this week thanks to a northwesterly breeze, which is pushing air into the Boise area from the only place in the western United States that isnt really on fire. This means cleaner, less smoky air, and its also pushing out other pollutants, like ozone.
Thats why it feels so strange to be able to see the Foothills today and take a deep breath without feeling like you just ingested a carton of cigarettes. So go for a jog, take a dip, break out the road bike, or sit on the porch and enjoy the fresh air while it lasts.
The Valley has had 43 days of moderate or poorer air quality since June 1, including 21 days in August.
While most of the state seems to be getting a break from bad air, that isnt the case in Salmon, which had the dreaded purple (very unhealthy) air quality reading at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Most of Boises air quality alerts are yellow or orange, two or three steps down the quality scale from purple on the Department of Environmental Qualitys six-step color scheme to inform the public about diminished air quality.
The colors are: green (good), yellow (moderate), orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups), red (unhealthy), purple (very unhealthy), and maroon (hazardous).
Air quality index, or AQI, numbers provide the basis for the color scheme by registering concentrations of five different pollutant types into one figure.
An AQI forecast below 50 is considered good, while 51 to 100 triggers a yellow alert. For instance, the projected AQI for the Boise on Wednesday is 50, but an air reading at Saint Luke's Meridian Medical Center at 8 a.m. had the AQI at 18.
Boise has had more than 30 days in the yellow range this summer and seven days in the orange, which means an AQI of 101-150. The highest was on Aug. 12, when an AQI of 157 was recorded thats in the red zone.
The AQI at Salmon at 7 a.m. Wednesday was 216.