Double Whammy on Smoke

Wild fires across the state, including the Clover Fire near Olancha, continue to fill the Eastern Sierra with smoke. With so many fires burning, Sierrawaves forecast specialist Dennis Mattinson says that its very difficult to pin down which fires are sending the smoke our way. Meanwhile, the Air Pollution Control District has declared an air quality health advisory due to all the smoke.

Pinning down where the smoke comes from all depends on which way the wind blows, but in the Owens Valley the wind patterns are complex, Mattinson explained. The 6,000 acre Madera, Mariposa, Merced unit is burning to the west of Mammoth and the 13,000 acre Clover fire is burning southwest of Olancha.

With the complicated and shifting winds in the Eastern Sierra, Mattinson says that we could be receiving a double whammy. The wind in the Owens Valley, he explained, generally has a southwesterly flow, so the smoke should be from the Clover fire. The winds in Mammoth, generally flow from the west, so the smoke is likely from the west side of the Sierra. Add in inversion layers, and winds over the Sierra crest, and Mattinson says that he believes the smoke from different fires is mingling as well.

Mattison also measures air pollution levels for the EPA. He reports that his portable particle pollution measurements taken Tuesday average out to 110 micrograms per cubic meter on the floor of the Owens Valley. Mattinson says that there is no doubt that the air right now is bad for people susceptible to smoke. Late Wednesday, the Air Pollution Control District did issue an official air quality advisory that said our Eastern Sierra air is unhealthful due to smoke from various fires. The APCD recommended that people stay inside when possible and avoid strenuous activity in the smoky air.

Mattinson says that he expects the southwest winds to continue to bring smoke from the Clover Fire into the Eastern Sierra over the next few days.

Meanwhile the Clover fire continues to burn. Forest Officials now have the fire listed at 13,250 acres in size. Fire crews are reported to be on structure protection detail in the Kennedy Meadows area. 24 engines and 640 fire personnel have now been assigned to this fire.

 
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