Washoe County air quality back to unhealthy levels after days of clear skies

Smoke from the California wildfires can be seen from the top of Sutro Street in Reno on Tuesday Sept. 15, 2020

After days of clear skies and healthy levels of air quality, Washoe County and the Eastern Sierra can expect “unhealthy” air qualities. 

According to AirNow and the Washoe County Health District, air quality for the Reno-Sparks area reached “unhealthy” levels on Saturday.

Per the AirNow report, the air-quality index (AQI) for the area is at 160. 

The report added sensitive groups should restrict outdoor activity. 

“People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens: Reduce your exposure by choosing less strenuous activities or shortening the amount of time you are active outdoors,” the report read. 

According to the U.S Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program, air quality in the area is not expected to get better by Sunday. 

The program added that the North Complex Fire has mainly contributed to the air quality. 

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“Expect the same fire activity today as yesterday. In general, we will have worse air quality today than yesterday as the NE winds slowly start to dominate the area creating less wind flow with more stagnant air,” the report read. “Expect smoke to accumulate in low lying areas in the morning and evening hours.”

The fire has expanded into 389 acres and remains at 78 percent containment. The fire now covers 304,881 acres. 

Towns in the Eastern Sierra can expect worse conditions than those in Washoe County. 

According to the National Weather Service, the Mammoth Lake area is expected to have some clearing due to winds. 

Non-sensitive groups are advised to stay indoors when possible and partake in less strenuous activities. 

Andrew Mendez is a student at the Reynolds School of Journalism and is a Fall 2020 intern reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. You can support his work by contributing to the joaiturnalism school’s Dean’s Advisory Council fund.