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When will Boise get a breath of fresh air?

Boise doctor advises to stay indoors on smoky days

Dr. Kate Sutherland, a pulmonologist at Saint Alphonsus Medical Group in Boise, explains the first four air quality indexes and precautions people should take when heavy smoke looms in the air.
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Dr. Kate Sutherland, a pulmonologist at Saint Alphonsus Medical Group in Boise, explains the first four air quality indexes and precautions people should take when heavy smoke looms in the air.

Visibility in Boise was as low as 3 miles on Wednesday, as smoke from western wildfires continued to permeate the air in the Treasure Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

For the third day in a row, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued an “orange” air quality alert, which means that the elderly, children and people with heart or lung conditions are advised to limit strenuous activities outside on Thursday.

It also means Thursday will be a lot like the past couple days — at times, the air quality could be in the “red” zone, or unhealthy for everyone, not just people in sensitive groups. The smoke levels are worse in the morning and evening hours, state air quality experts say.

The good news: Friday could bring some clearing, according to Dave Groenert, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.

“We’re getting into a more active pattern,” Groenert said. “ If there is hope (of clearing), it’s going to be as we get into the weekend.”

The problem continues to be that the air flow is from the west, and there are still a large number of fires burning from California to British Columbia.

“On Friday, there will be some improvement, some increased mixing and wind,” Groenert said of a dry cold front. “It will still be hazy but it probably won’t be this thick.”

The thick haze has depressed temperatures. The normal high for Wednesday is 87, and the forecast high was about 82.

The cold front coming through Friday will knock temperatures down, too. The forecast highs are: 84 on Friday and Saturday, and 79 on Sunday.

There’s a slight chance of rain on Sunday into Monday — like 20 percent change. The probability of rain is greater in the mountains, Groenert said.

The eight to 14-day outlook shows below normal temperatures and slightly above normal chance of precipitation.

It’s been a dry summer for Boise. The last time there was more than a trace of rain was on July 16, when a tenth of an inch was recorded at the airport.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413

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