Posted by: ukiahhome | June 26, 2008

Wind has shifted, Ukiah smoke gets worse

Normally, the afternoon wind blows through Ukiah from the northwest. This was a good thing over the last few days because there are only a few “smaller fires” upwind, Orr Springs and Reeves Canyon mainly. Beyond that it’s the clean air of the Pacific Ocean.

This afternoon, June 26, the wind has shifted, and it is now coming from the northeast. This shift is pulling smoke from the much larger fires burning around Lake Pillsbury and in the Mendocino National Forest (more than 50 fires in that area). As a result, the air quality is horrible, with less than 1/2 mile visibility at our location north of Ukiah valley (near Calpella).

Personally, I’ve had to abandon my office because its AC filter is not good enough to remove the smoke. We’re also picking up a few additional air filters for the house, because I’ve noticed the current ones are clogging up with soot.

Fortunately, I believe this is a temporary situation because a weather front is approaching, and that will shift the wind direction. Here, it rarely blows here from the NE so my guess is that by later tonight we will see the wind shift, and I hope it’s from a better direction. Of course, with fires are burning in nearly all directions,  it’s probably not going to be a huge difference in air quality. But, we’ll take any improvement we can get.

It’s also difficult to know what affect the wind shift will have on the Mendocino fires themselves. Sometimes it is possible for the wind to blow fires back into their prior “burns” and with much of the fuel already gone, this can help to put them out. Of course, the wind can also blow the fires into entirely new directions, which is very problematic for firefighters who are trying to predict the fire’s direction and where best to direct their limited resources.

Of course, we’ll need to see what type of weather this next storm brings. It’s supposed to be another thunderstorm, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

No air tankers

BTW, all this smoke has created a problem for the local air tankers (fire bombers) that fly out of Ukiah. I noticed yesterday and today that there was no air traffic over Ukiah. The problem of course is visibility at Ukiah airport. CalFire tankers require three miles visibility for landing and takeoff. That’s restriction is fully understandable considering that their approach is directly over the city of Ukiah. There’s no room for error.

Here’s a UDJ story about the Air tankers being grounded.

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