When you look outside and see air quality like this you might think, yeah, that's pretty typical...for Mexico City, or Los Angeles, or sometimes even Salt Lake City, but this summer terrible air quality and low visibility have been common in the Upper Snake River Valley, Idaho. It's been what I call "The Summer of the Smokey Haze."
These shots were taken during the early evening on 17 September 2012, from the SE corner of the BYU-Idaho campus, Rexburg, Idaho looking toward the north, northwest, and west. As you can see, the entire valley is filled with smoke.
Normally the Upper Snake River Valley has excellent air quality anywhere from 20-50 miles of visibility. We can usually see the mountains to the north and west of town with great clarity. This summer though, it's been a rare day when we've been able to see them.
Fortunately we haven't had much in the way of wildfires in our area - aside from one west of Salmon, ID, but because of the topography of Idaho, wind sweeps toward our part of the state from the southwest as wind blows along the lower Snake River Plain, hits hills and mountains to the east of Pocatello and Idaho Falls, and channels the wind our way. This year there have been large and persistent wild fires throughout much of the mountain west. This smoke reportedly is making its way to us all the way from fires in Nevada!
Only occasionally can you actually smell the smoke in the air, but the visibility and air quality has been especially poor, all summer long.
We have had some windy days, and even a little rain, and we keep hoping that it will either blow the smoke out of here or drop it to the ground (in the case of rain). But so far all wind does is bring more smoke. I guess the only relief we are likely to see anytime soon is going to be connected to seasonal changes. Maybe once temperatures start to drop and the fires south of us get under control things will get better.