Smoke and haziness seen in the sky across Arizona on Friday morning is from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington.
“This is not a normal cloud,” Darren McCollum, a National Weather Service forecaster in Flagstaff, said Friday.
Weather service meteorologists in Phoenix and Flagstaff noticed the sky appears more overcast than usual.
“The smoke from these wildfires is pushing into the state right now and spreading almost all over Arizona,” said Isaac Smith, a weather service forecaster in Phoenix.
McCollum and Smith said they believe Arizona will continue to see smokey skies throughout the weekend.
“The winds do look like they’re going to change over the next few days which would help clear out the smoke,” said Bob Huhn, with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.
Huhn also explained that the vast majority of the smoke is elevated off the ground. “Even though some of the smoke is mixing down to the surface, it’s not necessarily registering to our ground monitors,” he said.
While there has been very little change in air quality, Huhn predicts moderate to high levels of ozone that are still below federal standards.
“Everyone is affected differently such as those with asthma or respiratory illnesses, so we let people know about the ozone levels and let them decide for themselves if they want to limit their outdoor activities,” Huhn said.
If ozone levels rise higher, the Air Quality Department may ask people to drive less, refuel after dark and use leaf blowers less to help keep ozone levels down.
McCollumn predicts northern Arizona will continue to see smokey skies into the night, with the central and southern parts of Arizona experiencing more smoke throughout the weekend, based on patterns of the wind.
Smith also mentioned that overcast skies could help keep temperatures down by two or three degrees.
“The key for the smoke is to watch weather and wind conditions,” Huhn said.