Smoke Outlook for 7/19 – 7/20: Fire weather generally moderate; Upper Yukon still extreme

Cooler weather and rainfall have decreased fire activity in some Alaskan communities, while dry and warmer temperatures continue to promote fire activity elsewhere across the state. There are currently 215 fires burning across Alaska, producing varying amounts of smoke that has the potential to travel large distances in some cases.

Columns of smoke rise Thursday evening, July 18, 2019, from where a helicopter has dropped plastic spheres that ignite to catch a broad area black spruce on fire. The tactical firing operation is removing the fuels ahead of the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) to the northeast of Chalkyitsik. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Columns of smoke rise Thursday evening, July 18, 2019, from where a helicopter has dropped plastic spheres that ignite to catch a broad area black spruce on fire. The tactical firing operation is removing the fuels ahead of the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) to the northeast of Chalkyitsik. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Residents who have known health issues that may be affected by smoke are encouraged to speak with their health care provider and discuss how smoke might impact them. Communities in the Upper Yukon area have experienced significant fire growth, and residents in villages should take steps as necessary whenever wind patterns push smoke nearby.

North (Fairbanks and surrounding cities, Denali National Park)

Fire

Cooler weather and scattered showers have slowed growth of fires near Fairbanks. Other areas such as the Upper Yukon Zone continue to have hot, dry conditions with intense fire activity. To see a summary of activity on a specific fire, go to: https://fire.ak.blm.gov/ then select AICC Situation Report.

Forecast of air quality in Fairbanks, North Pole, Denali National park and surrounding areas. July 19-20, 2019
Forecast of air quality in Fairbanks, North Pole, Denali National park and surrounding areas. July 19-20, 2019

Smoke

With less fire activity in the Fairbanks area, air quality has been good to moderate for several days. Today the Fairbanks/ North Pole area could have some smoke coming in from large fires to the west, but conditions are still expected to stay within the moderate range.

Map of fires burning in the greater Fairbanks area including Denali National Park. July 19, 2019.
Map of fires burning in the greater Fairbanks area including Denali National Park. July 19, 2019.

In areas with large, active fires such as the Upper Yukon Zone and the Galena Zone there may be smoke at unhealthy levels. If residents or visitors notice health effects from smoke, please follow the “actions to protect yourself” listed below.

Other

The monitor at Denali National Park is not reporting data. Blue Sky computer modeling indicates good to moderate air quality in the park today.

South (Anchorage, Mat-Su, and the Kenai Peninsula)

Fire

Map of Southcentral cities including Sterling, Cooper Landing, and Seward as well as Anchorage, Palmer and Butte.
Map of Southcentral cities including Sterling, Cooper Landing, and Seward as well as Anchorage, Palmer and Butte.

The Swan Lake Fire is approximately 100,812 acres and is 25% contained. The fire has been smoldering and moving in the drainages on the eastern flank. The rest of the fire remains fairly inactive. Lower temperatures and increased relative humidity have reduced fire activity. This trend is expected to continue through mid-week, when fire activity is anticipated to pick up.

Smoke

Southeast winds are expected this afternoon, Cooper Landing and Sterling could see smoke impacts, more so in the evenings and mornings. Increased fire behavior and smoke production are anticipated later in the week with a drying trend in the weather.

Southeast Juneau should not see any smoke impacts today.

Forecast of smoke impacts for July 19-20 for Palmer, Butte, Anchorage, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Juneau.
Forecast of smoke impacts for July 19-20 for Palmer, Butte, Anchorage, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Juneau.

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