Heat, Arizona and New Mexico wildfires contributing to Colorado's hazy sky
If Colorado's recent hazy sky has triggered thoughts of the beginning of another smoke-filled summer after last year's historic wildfire season, don't panic.
Yes, the sky is hazy. And yes, the haze is from wildfires. But there is more to the story.
The haze is a mixture of heightened ozone concentrations, which is typical on hot days, and wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico.
Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported the ozone concentration to be moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups along the Front Range, including from Denver to Fort Collins.
The Telegraph and Mescal fires burning north of Tucson and southeast of Phoenix have burned more than 140,000 acres combined, according to the Interagency Incident Information Center.
Those two fires along with a handful of others in Arizona and New Mexico have created light concentrations of smoke across Colorado, especially in interior mountain valleys.
A large swath of extreme to exceptional drought (the two driest drought designations) persists in New Mexico, Arizona and wrapping into the Western Slope of Colorado, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.
That has set the stage for an anticipated active wildfire season in those areas.
However, Colorado has seen few wildfires this season and many of those have occurred in the Western Slope. The largest current wildfire is the 322-acre Dragon wildfire in Rio Blanco County near the Utah state line, according to the interagency report.
Abundant spring rain east of the state's Continental Divide has erased all drought designations.
For daily Colorado smoke and fire conditions, visit data.coloradoan.com/fires.
Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.