Arizona Air Quality Information

Smoke Invades Arizona from Apple Fire


Smoke-filled skies shrouded the Valley of the Sun on Sunday! Wildfire activity was the cause, but not in Arizona. The Apple Fire burning through the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California grew substantially by Saturday night. Burning hot through both the day and night, wildfire smoke was able to reach high in altitude. The combination of a large wildfire smoke plume ejecting high up into the atmosphere and light winds aloft under strong high pressure allowed smoke to gradually overspread much of southern California and western and central Arizona. Those light winds also meant smoke was not necessarily quick to vacate the area.

Fortunately, though, significant smoke impacts at the surface are not being observed based on continued lower PM2.5 pollutant levels being noted (PM2.5 measurements help us track fine particulate; smoke is a common source of PM2.5). So, the sky may look dramatic at times with a red or orange hue as sunlight strikes through the haze, but that smoke is staying aloft and that is the continued forecast going forward.

There is more good news on the horizon, too. A low pressure trough developing in the California vicinity by midweek ultimately quickens dispersion winds between Arizona and the Apple Fire. That should reduce the haze sticking around over Phoenix at the moment.

Additionally, those winds take on a southwesterly direction to keep any future Apple Fire smoke plumes west and north of Phoenix. Be sure to stay up-to-date with our Phoenix hourly air quality forecast this week for any changes to expected air quality and the weather!

View Phoenix Air Quality Forecast