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UPDATED: Smoke from Gila Fires Causes ABQ Air Quality Alert

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The City of Albuquerque has issued an air quality alert starting at 11 p.m. tonight.

Wildfire smoke that may cause elevated particulate matter caused the alert, which will last until Sunday at 3 p.m., according to a news release from the city.

Smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire could move into the city tonight and linger through tomorrow morning, the release said. Air quality could worsen tomorrow afternoon as southwest winds push smoke directly toward Albuquerque.

Smoke from the two major fires burning in the Gila region — now known as the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire — has already spread across much of southern New Mexico and is expected to move toward populated areas within the Rio Grande Valley from Socorro north to Albuquerque and Santa Fe from tonight through Saturday, according to a special weather statement from the National Weather Service.

Primary impacts will be areas of reduced visibilities and associated health concerns due to deteriorating air quality, the weather service said.

When visibility is 2 miles or less, air quality is considered to be very unhealthy or hazardous.

Areas of smoke are expected in the Albuquerque metro area tonight through Saturday and give way to clear and windy conditions Saturday night, followed by sunny and mostly clear skies on Sunday and on Memorial Day, according to the seven-day forecast.

You can follow the weather service’s projected trajectory of the smoke plume here — and it looks as if the plume will miss the Albuquerque metro area today.

Meanwhile, the sky over Las Cruces has looked more brown than blue thanks to the Gila fires burning about 150 miles to the northwest, and several Las Crucens were complaining that the haze was impacting their breathing, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Initially, the smoke was impacting the Truth or Consequences area and parts of eastern New Mexico, but wind patterns shifted Tuesday night directing smoke further to the south, the Sun-News said.