Temperatures rise, wildfire smoke pollutes air over Redding

·3 min read
Wind pushed smoke from wildfires burning in the North State over Hilltop Drive in Redding on Monday Aug. 15, 2022.
Wind pushed smoke from wildfires burning in the North State over Hilltop Drive in Redding on Monday Aug. 15, 2022.

Smoke from North State wildfires is polluting the air over Redding and the rest of the Sacramento Valley as temperatures soar this week, boosting fire danger.

High pollution levels prompted Shasta County to issue an Air Quality Warning on Monday, while the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the Sacramento Valley — from Redding, south to Sacramento — in effect from 11 a.m. Tuesday to 8 p.m. Friday.

Expect the worst of this week's heat on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Emily Heller, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. Daytime temperatures could reach 109 degrees from Redding to Modesto.

It's possible Redding could match heat records for those dates, Heller said. Historically, highest temperatures recorded in Redding were 110 degrees on Aug. 16, 1920; 109 degrees on Aug. 17, 2017.

Heat and very dry brush could feed fires already burning in the North State and spread any new fire starts, Heller said, but the good news is winds will be calm throughout the valley.

Thunderstorms could pass over the mountains east of the Sacramento Valley on Tuesday afternoon, the weather service said.

Fire starts are possible due to lightning, Heller said. Rain could evaporate before it hits the ground, keeping vegetation dry.

The rest of the week brings little respite from the heat, she said, but temperatures will drop. Expect daytime highs to reach 105 on Thursday and Friday, 103 on Saturday and 100 on Sunday.

Air pollution reaches unhealthy levels

Meanwhile, wildfire smoke is pushing North State air pollution to unhealthy to hazardous levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency/Air Now.

Shasta County issued an Air Quality Advisory on Monday morning, warning of "varying amounts of wildfire smoke — especially on the western side of" the county.

The advisory will likely stay in effect at least through Tuesday, Shasta County air pollution inspector Kyle Willard said on Monday.

North State air at 10:30 a.m. Monday morning: Smoke from wildfires is polluting air above the North State. Dark red areas show the worst air, classified as "hazardous" to people's health. Purple levels are extremely unhealthy and red unhealthy. Orange areas represent unhealthy air for children, the elderly and people with certain health issues. Yellow areas are those with moderate pollution levels.
North State air at 10:30 a.m. Monday morning: Smoke from wildfires is polluting air above the North State. Dark red areas show the worst air, classified as "hazardous" to people's health. Purple levels are extremely unhealthy and red unhealthy. Orange areas represent unhealthy air for children, the elderly and people with certain health issues. Yellow areas are those with moderate pollution levels.

Smoke from the Six Rivers Complex of fires burning in Trinity and Humboldt counties will continue to move east this week, covering Shasta and Tehama counties skies, Heller said.

Light north winds during the day blew some of the smoke south of Redding, but fires will likely pour more smoke into the valley at night, Willard said.

That pattern will probably continue all week, Heller said, barring any new fires starting or current fires being contained.

Related: Lightning complex of fires burning in Trinity, Humboldt counties grows by more than 2,000 acres

As of Monday morning, the Six Rivers Complex burned 19,272 acres and was 17% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

People should stay indoors when pollution levels are high, the Tehama County Air Pollution Control District said. That's especially true for certain sensitive groups: Children, the elderly and people with certain health problems including respiratory disease.

For more information on protecting your family from smoke and pollution, go to the Shasta County Wildfire Smoke Information web page at bit.ly/3Pvn5Hr.

For air quality updates in your area, go to www.airnow.gov and type in your zip code.

Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: NWS: Wildfire smoke, heat coming to North State this week