Due to a particular wind pattern and wildfires in southern Arizona, smoke appears to be drifting a very long way and reaching parts of the Bay Area today.
In an unpleasant harbinger of the fire season ahead of us, some Bay Area residents reported smelling smoke outside early Wednesday. The National Weather Service caught wind (sorry) of this, and put up a smoke map on Twitter showing the fires in the southern part of Arizona, and where the smoke is getting carried through Wednesday afternoon.
Smelling smoke in the air this morning? You're not alone. Several people in the Bay Area have noted a smoky smell. The smoke is likely from wildfires in the Desert SW region. Here's a smoke model showing smoke drifting over the region. #cawx #smoke pic.twitter.com/hueCNfY5Uo— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) June 16, 2021
The map shows parts of Los Angeles County and the Central Valley are likely smelling a lot more smoke from the Arizona fires today, unless it is being kept aloft.
A National Weather Service meteorologist, Gerry Diaz, tells the Chronicle that smoke smells are probably most likely at higher elevations, and in places like the Santa Cruz Mountains. But the fires are still very far away.
"We realize that especially given last year’s fires there is that more enhanced concern,” Diaz says, “but we do want to emphasize that if smoke is being smelled, especially up in the mountains and on the foothills, that is due to that smoke coming in from fires that are well to our east."
AZ Central reports that five major wildfires are currently burning across Arizona, with one near Flagstaff that's only 16% contained. As CNN reports, the much larger Telegraph Fire has begun merging with another fire, the Mescal Fire, and together they've burned over 210,000 acres in the Phoenix metro area. The communities of El Capitan, Dripping Springs, and Beverly Hills, all east of Phoenix, have been asked to evacuate.
Firefighters in the North Bay are on high alert as the heatwave descends over the Bay Area in the next 36 hours, with extra dry conditions increasing wildfire risk all over the region.
Air quality in San Francisco was listed as "Moderate," with an AQI of 56 as of 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.