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UPDATED: Smoky Air from Wildfires Expected To Shift South

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque’s latest air quality alert remains in effect until 11 a.m. today, but weather forecasters are expecting air quality impacts to shift south from the metro area today and Wednesday.

Smoky air from wildfires is expected to continue but be more constrained to far eastern Arizona and New Mexico’s southwest quadrant, according to the National Weather Service’s latest air quality alert.

Decreasing winds that are more west to northwest combined with decreasing smoke from the wildfires in eastern Arizona is expected to change the extent of the smoke’s impact on New Mexico today, with the impact primarily limited to areas south of Interstate 40 and west of the central mountains, the weather service said.

The densest smoke today is likely to be confined to southwest Catron County, including Luna, Reserve, Mogollon and Glenwood, with visibilities dropping to 3 miles or less at times.

A ridge of high pressure building over New Mexico on Wednesday will mean weaker steering winds aloft, keeping air quality impacts confined to southern Catron and Socorro counties, according to the weather service.

The Track Fire, burning north of Raton since midday Sunday, is expected to adversely impact air quality in far northeastern New Mexico at least through Wednesday, the weather service said.


12:04pm 6/13/11 — New Air Quality Alert Issued by ABQ Because of Wildfire Smoke

The city of Albuquerque has issued a new air quality alert starting at 3 p.m. today that runs through Tuesday at 11 a.m. because of smoke from the Wallow wildfire in eastern Arizona.

The city Environmental Health Department’s Air Quality Division issued the notice because the wildfire smoke may cause elevated particulate matter, according to a news release from the department.

The city had issued a similar alert last Thursday (June 9) that ran through today at 11 a.m.

In issuing the alert starting at 3 p.m. today, the Environmental Health Department said smoke levels are anticipated to increase late this afternoon or early evening and last several hours with air quality deteriorating. Smoke levels are expected to decrease by late Tuesday morning, the department said.

The department is recommending that people take precautions when outdoors in areas where there might be visible smoke or the odor of smoke.

The news release said that during periods of visible smoke or when the odor of smoke exists, the following actions are recommended, especially for individuals sensitive to particulate pollution:

  • Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially, exercise.
  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
  • Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside, which could include swamp coolers, “whole-house” fans or “fresh air ventilation systems.”
  • Run your air-conditioner or swamp cooler only if it does not bring in smoke from outdoors. Change the standard air-conditioner filter medium or high efficiency filter. If you have a wall-unit or window-unit air conditioner, set it to “re-circulate.”
  • If you have any chronic lung disease (including asthma) or heart disease, closely monitor your health and contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms that worsen, including repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, unusual fatigue or lightheadedness. Consider going to a location with refrigerated air or leaving the area until smoke conditions improve.

The news release said people without air-conditioning should take these additional steps to protect themselves and their families from heat exhaustion, which can be especially dangerous for infants, children, the elderly, and people with chronic disease:

  • Lower body temperature by using cold compresses, misting, and taking cool showers, baths, or sponge baths.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. However, if your doctor has told you to limit the amount you drink or you are taking water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink during the heat.
  • Avoid drinks with alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as these can promote dehydration.
  • Consider moving to location that has air-conditioning.
  • Do not exercise or perform physical activity.
  • Wear light-weight and light colored clothing.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion, including fatigue, nausea, headache, and vomiting, and contact your doctor immediately if these occur.

For additional information, go to the city’s Air Quality website at Daily air quality index information is available by phone at 505-768-4734 or 505-766-7664.