Camp Fire smoke has hit Sacramento. How bad is the air?

Pushed by north winds, smoke from the devastating Butte County wildfire hung over the Sacramento region on Friday and was likely to affect air quality over the weekend and into next week, officials reported.

Air particle levels in the Sacramento region were expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups on Friday, according to the Spare the Air website for the Sacramento region, worsening to unhealthy levels Saturday and returning to unhealthy for sensitive groups Sunday and Monday.

Air quality officials advise that when you smell or see smoke, you should stay indoors and minimize your exposure by shutting doors and windows. If you must be outdoors, they also advise limiting strenuous activity.

Depending on wind and the Camp Fire’s status, smoke could be visible in the capital area through early next week, according to Spare the Air.


This live-updating map shows the combined readings for particulate matter and ozone.
AQI Animation -

“Winds will be light for the rest of today and into Saturday,” said Jim Mathews, a forecaster with the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service. The smoke was expected to gradually shift northward away from the Sacramento region Friday afternoon, he said, but drift back toward the city Saturday.

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“(S)tronger winds are unfortunately forecast to develop Saturday night into Sunday,” Mathews said, with gusts up to 30 mph from the north possible.

The weather service warned that the wind will renew critical fire weather conditions. “Smoke likely will spread to the southwest again from the Camp Fire along the coast,” Mathews said.

Winds are then expected to weaken Sunday night and Monday, with breezes of 5 mph out of the north. “We’re probably going to have some smoky conditions at times in the Sacramento area over the weekend at least into Monday,” Mathews said.

Temperatures through early next week are likely to reach the low 70s during the day, dropping into the upper 30s and low 40s at night, Mathews said.

And there’s no rain in the forecast.

Mathews said that while there is potential next weekend for a system strong enough to break down the current pattern and bring some rain to the area north of Sacramento, “the models have been showing that all month and it hasn’t happened yet.”

“We’re not banking on it yet,” he said.

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