Swan Lake Fire spreads smoky haze to much of Southcentral

Smoke column from Swan Lake Fire (Photo via National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

The Swan Lake Fire has produced the worst air quality, so far, for much of Southcentral Alaska since lightning sparked the fire in early June. Many Alaskans in the region awoke Wednesday to the thickest haze of smoke yet.

The state Division of Air Quality is warning of the smoke’s potential health effects, with advisories in effect until Friday evening, pending any extensions.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Michael Lawson says an inversion layer in the atmosphere, along with a high-pressure ridge “quieting” the weather and a gentle wind pushing the smoke northward combined to create smokey conditions for a huge swath of the state’s population.

“The same inversion conditions are going to set up again tonight, so we would expect much of the same,” Lawson said.

And Lawson says the smoke affecting communities north of the fire is expected to last at least until the weekend.

“Well, pretty high confidence that this ridge is going to stick around through at least Saturday at this point,” he said. “So we’re not expecting too much change. It’s kinda hard to predict exactly where the smoke is going to go, but conditions shouldn’t be changing too much.”

Air Quality advisories for residents of the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough say the elderly, children and anyone with respiratory or heart disease should avoid exertion in the smokey air, and everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

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