SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Skies across South Dakota are seeing a lot of smoke coming from the wildfires in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
The smoke is being carried over via the jet stream, KELOLAND Meteorologist Adam Rutt said.
“That just kind of sits overhead and we get the end result of what we have had over the last couple of days, including conditions getting so bad, like yesterday, where you could literally smell the smoke in the air because it has been trapped at the lower levels of the atmosphere,” he said.
Not only does that reduce visibility, but it also effects the air quality.
If you are asthmatic or prone to any respiratory issues, or are elderly or a young child, you should limit or completely avoid any kind of strenuous outdoor activity and stay inside, Rutt recommends.
The smoky skies have been around for a while, but we have started to be able to smell it because the smoke is trapped in the lower portions of the atmosphere, when earlier this month, it was the upper parts of the atmosphere and it wasn’t able to filter down.
“But we have a different set up this time around, through this previous week, and that has kept the smoke trapped a little bit further down in the lower parts of the atmosphere to the point where we can actually smell it in the air,” he said.
Surface winds have coming down from the north, bringing the smoke down, Rutt said. High pressure can also act as a suppressor of air.
“So when you get high pressure in place, that’s bringing that air down, it’s keeping things pinned down a little bit further as opposed to low pressure, where the air is able to rise up a little bit more in the atmosphere,” he said.
Rutt said the smoke in the atmosphere will not be changing anytime soon. We still have the upper and lower patterns that are going to keep funneling in the smoke, especially east river.
“In terms of getting that down to the surface, that’s just going to depend on what kind of high pressure we have in place,” Rutt said. “That does come back as we head through the weekend, into the first couple of days of August, so we are going to have to watch that very carefully.”
The low air quality is definitely something that can happen in any part of KELOLAND, he said, if we have the wrong factors in place. We have had high pressure, hot temperatures, wildfires and smoke coming in. It all combines to bring about these code red and code purple situations.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s certainly more than capable of happening here,” he said.
The rain that we are experiencing in areas right now will help temporally.
“It’s not going to be a cure-all, unfortunately, because one, it’s not a lot of rain and two, the smoke basically reloads after this gets out of here,” Rutt said. “But the rain can basically cleanse the air in at least some capacity. So, while we get limited relief, which is better than the alternative, it doesn’t stick around.”
Rain cleanses the air by attracting the aerosols in the air, such as pollen, any kind of pollutant, or in this case, smoke. It attracts them toward the raindrop itself and affectively takes it out of the atmosphere.
As long as the rain is here, it will help out, Rutt said, but when it is gone, it’s back to square one.
“With things kind of going back to the way they were after this rain gets out of here, unfortunately, it’s going to more often than not, go back (to) what we’ve seen where we have those elevated concerns for air quality issues,” he said.
Until we get the wind pattern to change, we are going to smell and see the smoke in our air, Rutt said.
“But since we really don’t get either of those things, coming around, especially through at least mid-week next week, we are going to continue keeping a very close eye on things,” he said.