Out-of-state wildfires cause haze over Taos


The many and massive wildfires burning in the Western United States are the source of the haze that's been hanging over Taos for the past week.

Taos' normally stunning vistas took on a distinctly hazy hue around last Wednesday (Aug. 30). Weather patterns moved smoke from the northwest corner of the continental United States across other parts of the country.

Among the fires burning across the West is the Chetco Bar Fire in Oregon. As of Tuesday (Sept. 5), the fire was larger than 167,000 acres with about 1,600 fire fighters stationed to the blaze. About 780 fire personnel are battling the approximately 108,100-acre Rice Ridge Fire in Montana, which is only 2 percent contained. The Diamond Creek Fire in Washington is currently 95,000 acres, while the High Cascades Complex in Oregon is actually 20 fires moving through a national park and three national forests.

Strong high pressure over Utah and Nevada, along with a recent cold front, helped usher in more smoke to New Mexico, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service's Albuquerque office.

As smoke has moved steadily south over the past week, particulates in the local atmosphere have ebbed and flowed throughout the day.

Forecasts suggest New Mexico could continue to see hazy skies until at least Sunday (Sept. 10), as areas like the central part of Washington have gone without rain for more than two months and critically low humidity is expected to continue though this week.

The New Mexico Department of Health has issued no health advisories due to the haze. The department usually only issues smoke-related warnings when visibility is less than 3 miles -- when wildfire smoke can present health hazards to children and people with particular health conditions.