Where there's smoke, there's Boise

sdeter@idahostatesman.comAugust 15, 2013 

This satellite image from Thursday morning shows how the wind patterns, indicated by the blue arrows, carried smoke into Boise.

PROVIDED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BOISE

In a scene that is becoming familiar to Boise residents, smoke limited visibility and made breathing less than pleasurable Thursday afternoon.

How bad was it?

For starters, the state Department of Environmental Quality upgraded a yellow, or moderate, air quality alert for the Treasure Valley to orange — unhealthy for sensitive groups — because of smoke from wildfires. The orange alert remains in effect into Friday.

And no amount of squinting will help with visibility. National Weather Service Meteorologist Bill Wojcik said visibility at the airport was 2 1/2 miles — and probably less Downtown and in the Foothills.

Wojcik said most of the smoke is probably coming from the Elk Complex Fire northeast of Mountain Home and the Beaver Creek Fire west of Ketchum.

Conditions are ripe for smokiness. Wojcik said smoke is draining into the Treasure Valley, getting trapped in an inversion then sucked back through Boise by a southeasterly wind. He expects the same scenario Friday.

Wojcik doesn't offer a lot of hope for those having difficulty with the smoke.

"Hopefully they run out of stuff to burn," he said.

Sean Deter: 377-6450; Twitter: IDS_Deter

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