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How Long Will This Smoke Last? The Crystal Ball Is Hazy

Smoke rises above a wildfire in the middle of dense green forest. The smoke is blanketing about half the visible area.
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Smoke rises above the Snake River Complex fire south of Lewiston in July 2021.

Hazy conditions from wildfire smoke in the region will likely stick around for a while in parts of Idaho.

Air quality forecasts in central and southern Idaho are predicting moderate conditions through Wednesday. But some places such as McCall, Lewiston and Salmon recorded unhealthy particle levels for sensitive groups and the general public on Monday.

“Most of the smoke that you guys are seeing are from probably some more local-type fires, but we’re still getting some from Oregon and California as well,” said Mark Boyle, a smoke management supervisor for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

A small shift in the weather could temporarily blow some of this smoke eastward. But Boyle said it’ll likely also keep bringing more smoke from surrounding states this way.

Smoke brings with it sore throats, irritated eyes and other potentially more serious health problems. Even if conditions are rated as moderate, Boyle said to pay attention to how your body is reacting.

“If you’ve got a scratchy throat, or you’ve got a hard time breathing, it doesn’t really matter what the air quality level is. You need to make sure you’re taking care of that or contacting your doctor,” he said.

With above average wildfire conditions expected through September, Idahoans should prepare for a potentially smoky summer.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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