It’s shaping up to be another smokey day in the Sacramento region Saturday because of the fires raging across Northern California, prompting the 11th “Spare the Air” alert day in a row and reported sightings of ash falling from the sky.
The area’s topography “kind of acts as a lid where the smoke can get trapped here in the valley,” said Tom Dang, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District gives the entire four-county region an Air Quality Index rating of 151 for Saturday, which is considered unhealthy for the entire population and may begin to cause people to experience some adverse health effects. Prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion should be limited and people should aim to drive less while the alert is in effect, the district warns.
Within Sacramento County, the air quality is only slightly better with an AQI rating of 126, which is still considered moderately high and unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with heart and lung disease.
Radar has also shown that the smoke has brought some ash with it into the area Saturday, said Mike Kochasic, a weather forecaster for the National Weather Service in Sacramento. He said, while some of the ash could be coming from the Carr Fire or the Ferguson Fire, most of it is likely coming from the Mendocino Complex fires burning to the west.
Most of the ash hitting the area is being carried into Colusa County in a long air stream from Lake County, Kochasic said, with the instances of ash falling in the cities of Roseville, Sacramento and Yuba.
“(The wind) just happens to be heading in the right direction for us to see a little bit here,” Kochasic said, adding that it’s hard to say how long ash will continue to fall in the region, with the duration hanging heavily on the wind’s direction.
The “Spare the Air” alert is expected to stay in effect until at least Sunday, according to the
Sacramento Region Spare The Air website. And weather experts are unsure of how long the Sacramento region will blanketed in smoke.
Conditions depend largely on how long and how large the fires continue to burn, Dang said.
The deadly Carr Fire has burned a total of 141,825 acres in Shasta and Trinity counties since it ignited July 23 and is currently at 41 percent containment, while the Mendocino Complex Fire, made up of both the Ranch and Rive fires, has burned more than 200,000 acres in Lake and Mendocino counties since it started July 27 and is currently at 34 percent containment.
“That’s the biggest variable (that) we don’t know,” Dang said.