print logo
Main Content Anchor

Wildfire Smoke Information

This page provides information on air quality impacts from wildfire smoke in Sacramento County.

Last updated: August 13, 2018

 

Current Fire Information​

Smoke continues to affect the Sacramento region due to various fires burning in northern California, plus smoke being transported from offshore caused by fires burning in the Pacific Northwest. If you see or smell smoke in your area you should stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities.

​Additional Real-Time Air Quality Data

There are several tools to access real-time air quality information during a wildfire smoke episode.
 

Current Conditions on SpareTheAir.com

Current conditions for both PM 2.5 and ground-level ozone are available at SpareTheAir.com. This resource uses EPA's NowCast. The NowCast algorithm uses longer averages during periods of stable air quality and shorter averages when air quality is changing rapidly, such as during a fire. The NowCast allows current conditions maps to align more closely with what people are actually seeing or experiencing.
 

Sacramento Region Air Quality App

This free app is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Store. Like SpareTheAir.com, it displays EPA's NowCast for each monitoring site in the Sacramento Region. Push notifications for wildfire smoke alerts are also available through the app.
 

Air Quality & Meteorological Information System (AQMIS)

AQMIS is provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and provides raw hourly concentration readings from air monitors throughout the state. To use AQMIS Query Tool to check for wildfire smoke impacts, click on the Hourly Data tab and select PM 2.5 as the parameter. Change the date and time of day as needed. You can either select Sacramento County for a more narrow list of monitors or Sacramento Valley from the list of air basins for a broader look at the region. Hit the Retrieve Data button to get the data table. You can convert these concentrations (micrograms per cubic meter) to the Air Quality Index (AQI), though keep in mind that the AQI ranges are based on health impacts from prolonged exposure, not short-term exposure.
 

PM 2.5 Monitor Map

The PM 2.5 Monitor Map is activated on SpareTheAir.com when a wildfire smoke episode is anticipated or occurs. This map provides EPA's NowCast levels at all regional monitors, including any temporary monitors placed and brought online by Sac Metro Air District, another air district or CARB.

Social Media

Social media is a great way to stay informed during a wildfire smoke episode. Here are some resources to follow.

  • @AQMD on Twitter: Sac Metro Air District provides air quality information during smoke episodes on its Twitter feed.
  • Spare The Air Scooter on Facebook: You can find wildfire smoke updates for the Sacramento Region on the Spare The Air Facebook page.
  • @CAL_FIRE on Twitter/CALFIRE on Facebook: CAL FIRE provides frequent updates on wildfires all over California.
  • @NWSSacramento on Twitter: The National Weather Service's Sacramento office provides smoke and weather forecast updates during episodes.
  • Fire hashtags: Wildfires are given names by responding agencies. Searching the fire name with a hashtag on Twitter or Facebook will often provide good information from a range of sources. You can find fire names in the top section of this page or through CAL Fire or the news media.
    • Example: Search #RimFire for the Rim Fire or #KingFire for the King Fire
  • California Smoke Blog: The California Smoke Blog is maintained and updated by several public agencies. Air quality advisories and smoke forecasts are often posted there by the U.S. Forest Service and air districts.

​Satellite Images

These tools help to visualize smoke plumes from various fires.
  • GOES-East: This resource from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a loop of satellite imagery for the West Coast, updated every five minutes and using True Color during the day and multispectral infrared at night. An explanation of how to read the map is included at the link.
  • Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product: This resource from NOAA provides a map of modeled plumes from major active fires. The daily model is typically produced by 7 a.m. PT each day.
  • NASA Worldview: NASA provides a single daily satellite image along with fire indicators that shows smoke plumes in addition to cloud cover and fog. NASA offers additional information on its Fire & Smoke page.

Weather Information

During a wildfire smoke episode, the National Weather Service typically includes information on smoke in its robust daily forecast discussions. These forecasts incorporate wind direction and strength in addition to other atmospheric conditions that impact smoke transport.

Sac Metro Air District's daily air quality forecast also takes smoke modeling into consideration during episodes. This includes forecasting PM 2.5 levels during periods of concern in addition to factoring in wildfire smoke's impact on ground-level ozone formation.

Health Information

Wildfire smoke includes particulate matter (PM). PM can be directly emitted, as with fires, or it can form in the atmosphere from reactions of gases such as nitrogen oxides. PM from wildfire smoke can cause serious health impacts.

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles (known as PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter) pose the greatest problems because they bypass the body’s natural defenses and can get deep into your lungs and potentially your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart.

Sac Metro Air District monitors PM 2.5 concentrations at several sites throughout Sacramento County.

Long-term exposure to particulate pollution can result in significant health problems including:

  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased lung function
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Development of chronic respiratory disease in children
  • Development of chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease, including death from lung cancer

Short-term exposure to particulate pollution can:

  • Aggravate lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis
  • Increase susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Cause heart attacks and arrhythmias in people with heart disease

Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
Supporting Page
Back to Top