Albuquerque’s wildfire haze explained: When will it move out?

Weather

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As wildfire haze continues to blanket the Albuquerque metro area this week, some are wondering if any relief is on the way. The city has been subject to several air quality alerts as smoke continues drifting in from wildfires in Arizona and southwest New Mexico.


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Meteorologist Grant Tosterud recently joined Digital Anchor Chris McKee in the KRQE News 13 Digital Studio to break down the facts and the forecasts tied to the haze. Watch the extended discussion above to learn more about where the smoke is coming from, why is hanging out in Albuquerque and when some changes in the weather pattern may help Albuquerque catch a break from the haze.

3 p.m. NOAA Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke June 9, 2021

5-3-1 Visibility Method

If it is smoky outside find out how far you can see. First, decide if the visibility is closer to 5 miles, 3 miles or 1 mile. pick a landmark you are familiar with and see if you can see it. Facing away from the sun, look for landmarks such as mountains, mesas, hills, or buildings in those mile ranges to help you estimate visibility. If these objects are not easy to see in these mile ranges, then decide:

5 Miles

Is the visibility under 5 miles? If you can see less than 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness; they should minimize outdoor activity. These people should reschedule outdoor recreational activities for a day with better air quality. It is okay for adults in good health to be out and about but they should periodically check visibility especially when fires are nearby.

3 Miles

Is the visibility just about 3 miles? Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities. These people should stay indoors. All outdoor activities should be avoided, including running errands. Everyone else should try to stay indoors as much as possible. All outdoor recreational activities should be rescheduled for a day with better air quality.

1 Mile

Is the visibility about 1 mile? If you can see less than 1 mile that means the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter.

Regardless of the visibility, if you are feeling as though you are having health effects from smoke, take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke and see your doctor or health professional as needed.

Since the southwest United States typically has very low humidity, visibility can be an effective tool to determine if it is healthy to be outside when smoke is present. The visibility test is not appropriate or effective in areas with high humidity, such as the southeastern United States, where water vapor (fog) may limit visibility.

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