Denver’s weather forecast Sunday is smoke, smoke and more smoke.
The city’s air quality was the second-worst in the world Sunday morning — behind Krasnoyarsk, Russia, according to IQAir’s world air quality rankings — as wildfire smoke from California moved in and set up camp across the Front Range this weekend.
“A lot of the thicker smoke has settled into our plains and valleys right now; the higher peaks are peeking out of it right now,” said Caitlyn Mensch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service at Boulder. “There is not a lot of wind to move it around.”
The air quality on the Front Range will waver between unhealthy for everyone and unhealthy for sensitive groups Sunday, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, both because of ozone levels and fine particulates. That means older adults, children and people with respiratory conditions, like asthma, should stay inside as much as possible.
The rest of Front Range residents should reduce “prolonged or heavy exertion” outside Sunday, the state’s public health agency warned.
Here’s the 6pm (8/7) update of the model smoke forecast. The model actually shows the smoke decreasing near the Denver area substantially by Sunday afternoon although we fear it may be a bit too optimistic. A return to thicker smoke is expected Monday. #COwx pic.twitter.com/UaShNryXjS
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) August 8, 2021
The urban corridor might see a slight reduction in wildfire smoke Sunday evening, Mensch said, but it won’t last long — a new band of smoke is likely to be pushed into the region on Monday.
“For today, it’s hard to call it an improvement, but there is a little bit of a gradual movement of the thicker smoke out of the area today,” she said. “But it’s still going to be around for the day.”
Visibility in Denver will be “extremely poor” Sunday due to the smoke, the state health agency said.
Much of the state is dealing with the wildfire smoke, not just the Front Range, Mensch added. And it’ll likely be a few days before residents can expect to see clear skies again.
“There could be some hope towards the end of the week,” she said. “We are seeing a ridge building that could keep the smoke to the north and east.”