Rain, wind slowly clearing out wildfire smoke across the Sacramento region

Across much of the Sacramento region, residents are breathing easier Wednesday as long-promised rain and wind dissipated the very unhealthy wildfire smoke that has clouded the air for a week.

Current air quality in Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties is at an orange level on the color-coded chart that environmental agencies use to educate the public about pollution levels. The air in Placer County is even better, falling within the yellow range on the Air Quality Index. The color green denotes the lowest level of air pollution.

“Moderate south-southeasterly winds will develop in the afternoon, which will help smoke dispersion in the Sacramento region,” said Lori Kobza, a spokesperson for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality District. “However, lingering smoke today during the morning hours and early afternoon will be seen in various parts of the region so the real clean out of smoke will happen overnight and tomorrow.”

That Air Quality index measures the level of pollution in the air, using numbers from zero to 500 and corresponding colors to convey the health risks for U.S. residents breathing the air. Green means good; yellow, moderate; orange, unhealthy for sensitive groups such as people with respiratory conditions; red. with a value range of 0-50; yellow, moderate at 51-100; orange, 101-150; red is good, unhealthy for everyone; purple, very unhealthy for everyone.

Medical professionals recommend limiting prolonged outdoor exertion when the Air Quality Index is in the yellow range or above.

The Sacramento region can expect much better air quality on Thanksgiving Day, Kobza said, because moderate and gusty south-southwesterly winds will disperse the smoke. Smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County has produced hazy skies and unhealthy air all around Northern California.

“With winter storms, the colder air aloft enhances vertical mixing of the air and helps to dissipate the particle pollution,” she said.

All residential wood burning is prohibited today in Sacramento County and the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, Isleton, Rancho Cordova and Sacramento.

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