Smoke from fires across the Pacific Northwest filled Colorado skies Tuesday, worsening the state's air quality and in the Pikes Peak region obscuring views of America's Mountain.
More than 60 fires burning across the West have blackened 918,000 acres of land, with some of the worst blazes raging in California, Oregon and Idaho, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
A high pressure weather system sitting over the Pacific Northwest continued to push the smoke across the country with much of the haze settling over Colorado, Kyle Mozley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo, said.
Mozley said the haze is likely to stick around for several weeks or as long as the high pressure system continues to push air from the northwest into Colorado.
"It's all just moving across the area," Mozley said.
Smoke from fires in Canada also exacerbated the haze as well as several smaller wildfires in northwestern Colorado, Mozley said.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment issued an air quality health advisory Tuesday for several counties in central Colorado, including Grand, Routt and Lake counties. Steamboat, Glenwood Springs and Breckenridge, among other areas, will also be affected.
Smoke from #morgancreekfire_co & out-of-state fires, continues to affect air quality in CO on Tues. Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke is in effect until at least 9 am Weds. Pic from Copper Mountain (courtesy https://t.co/TDZY9NEslo ) #cofire https://t.co/PaQkiOm1qj pic.twitter.com/6PPhKaSo0R— CDPHE Air Pollution (@cdpheapcd) July 13, 2021
Colleen Reid, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Colorado in Boulder, warned the smoke can have lasting health impacts, including trouble breathing, cardiovascular complications and effects on the immune system.
"Most of the time with wildfires we are worried about particulate matter," Reid said. "They are solid and liquid particles that stay suspended in the air, and the smaller they are, the deeper they can go into the lungs."
Reid said it's important to listen to air quality warnings and exercise inside during times with peak smoke.
Mozley also said heat can also exacerbate respiratory issues. Colorado Springs is likely to see temperatures in the 80s all week and Denver could reach the 90s by the weekend, the weather service predicted.