Many people are keeping track of air quality reports, smoke updates, and red flags warnings in California, as air quality decreases and smoke spreads across the state from numerous wildfires. Red flag warnings and watches mean that conditions can be favorable for wildfire development. High winds can also raise the chances of fires developing or growing. Read on to see interactive maps that can help you determine what’s going on in areas near where you live.
Air Quality & Smoke Reports
A number of maps and reports are available for you to assess air quality and smoke in your region. Here’s a roundup of where is best to look for the latest information.
For air quality and smoke report updates, see the California Smoke Information website here. This is described as “a voluntary effort by city, county, state, tribal and/or federal agencies to coordinate and aggregate information for California communities affected by wildfire smoke.”
AirNow (through the EPA) provides an interactive air quality map of the whole country, including California. An embedded map is below, but you can see the full map here. As you can see, there are quite a few areas in California right now where air quality is poor due to the fires across the state.
Air Now also provides a Fire and Smoke map here. If you allow the map to know your location, it will show you fires near where you are right now.
If you’re interested in the air quality at a national park near you, you can get the information at NPS.gov’s map here. This includes parks across the country, including California.
Many people are also using Purple Air for air quality reports in their region. Purple Air provides real-time air quality monitoring based on sensors used at residential homes and businesses. Purple Air’s air quality map can be found here. You’ll need to zoom into the map to see the sensor reports.
The San Francisco Chronicle also provides an air quality map, but you must be a paid subscriber to see it after you’ve reached your article limit.
Visalia Times Delta is providing a fire and smoke map here.
One option: https://t.co/0bj5IvSxQN
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) September 7, 2020
NOAA provides an experimental smoke map here. You’ll need to click on layers in the legend to see the smoke reports, such as “Near Surface Smoke, Vertically Integrated Smoke, and Surface Visibility, or Global Infrared. You can also choose to see Fire Dections on the legend. Just click on the “eye” in the legend next to the listing you’re interested in seeing. The map isn’t embeddable, but you can view it here.
Some residents are sharing what’s happening with smoke in their regions, as the smoke from California affects people outside of the state too. In Las Vegas, the Spring Mountains are obscured due to smoke from California fires.
The Spring Mountains are completely obscured from Downtown Las Vegas, on account of wildfire smoke from California. The @SustainClarkCty has just issued a Smoke & Ozone Advisory for today, because the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. https://t.co/jpP1zq8iyn
— Justin Bruce (@just1nbruce) September 7, 2020
Smoke is prevalent in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica #Weather Report
Air Quality at the beach isn’t good today.
— Our Santa Monica (@OurSantaMonica) September 7, 2020
The interior of San Louis Obispo County is under an air quality alert until Tuesday at 5 p.m.
AIR QUALITY ⚠️ Wildfires across California are impacting our local air quality. Hazy skies could be expected for portions of SLO, SB and VTA Counties.
*Interior San Luis Obispo County under an Air Quality alert until Tuesday at 5 PM. pic.twitter.com/zsiRNkMzlJ
— Julia Espinoza (@juliaespinozatv) September 7, 2020
Interactive Maps Showing Red Flag Warnings in California
A Red Flag warning lets fire managers know that conditions are highly unfavorable for prescribed burns and dangerous fire growth could occur, Weather.gov reported. These are typically issued in the spring and fall. Red Flag warnings also require residents to be cautious too, Weather.gov noted.
This first Red Flag Warning map you might be interested in viewing is a seven-day significant fire potential map, provided by NWCG.gov. This map allows you to scroll through the coming days and see areas in the United States and their risk levels. Grey means no data, green is little or no risk, yellow is low risk, and beige is moderate risk. Then orange through red indicates higher risk.
Google Maps has a crisis map (shown below) that provides details about wildfire watches and warnings for the country. To see only the watches and warning, go to “Layers” on the Legend and unclick Traffic Conditions and Unclick InciWeb Wildfire Information. Keep “Public Alerts” clicked, which includes evacuation notices, storm warnings, and the like, if you want. Click on any of the red shaded areas in the map below to see the specific watch or warning. Then click on that box to get more details about the warning. The map is below. Depending on your browser, you may need to use the + button to zoom into the map and see your state or city’s region. Zoom in for a closer look at California.
Mapping Support also provides a Fire Weather Watch map for California. You can view the map here. The server is sometimes busy, but it’s a great resource.