What’s causing hazy skies over Colorado’s Western Slope? | VailDaily.com

What’s causing hazy skies over Colorado’s Western Slope?

Hazy skies over Eagle County near Cottonwood Pass on Tuesday. Wildfire smoke from Canada has been transported into Western Colorado in recent days.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Wildfires raging in Alberta and British Columbia have begun to push smoke into Western Colorado, causing hazy skies over Eagle County.

Air quality has been compromised for days on the Front Range of Colorado, but Western Slope residents didn’t begin to see the hazy skies until Monday.

The compromised air quality in Western Colorado is “due to wildfire smoke from Canada that was transported from the north a few days ago and got trapped underneath a ridge of high pressure,” said Matt Aleksa with the National Weather Service’s office in Grand Junction.

Aleksa said it’s hard to say how long the haze could persist in Colorado.

“We need a storm system or front to move through to help clear things out,” he said. “It does look like Thursday into the weekend we have drier southwest flow moving in, which might help push some of this smoke out of here, but it may not be strong enough even though it will trend drier.”

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Over the weekend the Rock Cup, Colorado’s biggest recreational soccer tournament, canceled games and high school athletes participating in the state track and field meet at JeffCo Stadium said they had trouble breathing.

Battle Mountain High School track and field coach Rob Parish said while his athletes didn’t have a specific challenge, “the air quality was not great for sure,” he said. “We made the best of it though.”

Scattered rains and smoke cover cooled air temperatures and helped efforts to fight wildfires in Alberta, Canada, over the weekend, the Associated Press reported, while a new fire in neighboring British Columbia led to an evacuation order for one rural area.

“As the heavy smoke brought cooler temperatures, it also limited the ability to fly firefighting aircraft and it can harm the health of people having to breathe it,” according to the Associated Press report. “In British Columbia, which has also been plagued by wildfires, an out-of-control blaze that sprang up led officials to order the evacuation of an area near Tzenzaicut Lake about 375 miles north of Vancouver … Officials said a number of major wildfires remained in both the Cariboo and Peace River regions, but changing wind directions and cooler weather helped fightfighters temper the spread of those blazes.”

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