SALT LAKE CITY — You can't hold your nose or keep your mouth shut, but you can breathe easier if you limit physical activity to the early morning or late evening and avoid the hottest, smokiest part of the day.
Wildfire smoke from the Dollar Ridge Fire near Strawberry Reservoir, a brush fire in Saratoga Springs and a field fire at Federal Heights early Friday all pumped smoke into the air, swamping the Wasatch Front due to shifting winds.
"I don't think there is one signature that is prompting the poor air quality," said Donna Kemp Spangler, communications director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
Utah County, she noted, was in the "red zone" early Friday morning — meaning the air quality is bad for everyone. Weber County also hit unhealthy readings, while Salt Lake and Davis counties had moderate levels of particulate pollution, according to the DEQ website.
Though conditions had improved late Friday afternoon in all four counties, particulate pollution was predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups in Weber, Salt Lake and Davis counties and moderate in Utah County through the weekend, the DEQ website said.
Unfortunately, Spangler said, Mother Nature is not expected to help.
"Meteorologists are telling us they are not optimistic it is going to clear out. They are not seeing anything that would cause any significant change," she said.
On Friday, pollution levels were climbing in tandem with the heat, with the high topping 100 along the Wasatch Front.
There's no relief in sight, either, as temperatures are expected to hover in the 90s through Thursday, according to the latestKSL forecast.Comment on this story
Brian McInerney, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said low snowpack over the winter and a parched June are combining to create dangerous conditions for wildfires throughout the state.
"Now that we have all this heat, everything is pointing to scary bad fire conditions," he said.
The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration tracks near surface smoke in spots across the country, which shows the intensity of wildfire activity in the West, with Colorado, Utah and California all on the frontlines of activity.