Day 5: Haze begins to disperse though patchy areas of smoke remain


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area is without a Health Alert on Friday, June 11 for the first time this week since an initial alert was issued due to smoke on Monday, June 7. Wildfires in Arizona prompted the initial alert from the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program which was extended through 2 p.m. on Thursday.

While the National Weather Service did not issue an Air Quality Alert for New Mexico on Friday, patchy areas of smoke do linger in New Mexico’s west and central areas. The Air Quality was reported to be good Friday morning in Albuquerque.

Record heat will continue across southeast New Mexico where a Heat Advisory is in effect.

Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product analysis for June 10, 2021, last updated on Friday, June 11, 2021. (courtesy NOAA)

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that much of the southwestern United States remains in a prolonged drought and large wildfires are currently burning in Arizona which contributed to haze seen in New Mexico this week. Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called a special session of the state Legislature in order to boost wildfire funding as two large wildfires, the Telegraph and Mescal fires continue to burn in the state.

The most recent update for the Telegraph Fire indicates that the 85,901-acre blaze is now 40% contained while the 72,250-acre Mescal Fire is now 77% contained. Due to the recent increase in containment, New Mexico is receiving limited smoke.

In New Mexico, there are four active wildfires fires burning in New Mexico including the Johnson Fire, the Drummond Fire, the Wolf Draw Fire, and the Poso Fire. Additionally, the Ball Field Fire near Ruidoso was last reported to be about 25 acres in size and 75% contained as of Wednesday, June 9.

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.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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