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Northern California wildfire smoke brings hazy skies to Sonoma County

Hazy skies descended onto Sonoma County Friday, as smoke from wildfires further north in the state settled in over the North Bay valleys.|

Share your photos of the hazy skies with us at onlineideas@pressdemocrat.com. Please be sure to tell us when and where you took the photo.

Hazy skies descended onto Sonoma County Friday as smoke from wildfires further north in the state began to settle in over the North Bay valleys.

Although Friday was likely to be the haziest day of the summer in the North Bay and carry the thickest concentration of smoke over the next three days, an increasing likelihood of patchy fog mixing with smoke overnight means a chance of “fairly reduced visibility” into late Saturday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Canepa said.

Visibility could be as low as a quarter-mile, he said.

“So that’s something people who have plans to go out driving Saturday should think about,” he said.

Daytime warming could make conditions even worse, he said. A high of 86 is forecast for Saturday in Santa Rosa. The highest quantity of smoke is settling into interior areas, but are offset by breezes in coastal areas, Canepa said.

Shifting winds beginning on late Sunday should begin to improve air quality, Canepa said.

“But the question is will that be enough?” to clear out the skies, he said. “It’s trickiest in the North Bay and East Bay areas when you factor in the smoke element. At night that mix of smoke and fog settles back down.”

The area’s best hope is a dry cool front predicted to swoop in from the northwest, bringing fresher north to northwest sea breezes and pushing the smog to the east by early Monday, he said.

Cal Fire spokesperson Tyree Zander said the agency had received 32 calls from the public as of 5 p.m. worried that there was a fire and reporting the smell of smoke.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District predicted Friday’s air quality for the North Bay to be toward the upper end of the moderate at 84 PM, a measurement of fine particulate matter in the air. The district considers air quality to be unhealthy for sensitive groups when the PM is between 101 and 150.

Large fires in Trinity, Siskiyou and Plumas counties have been sending off smoke plumes that for days have been blowing mostly to the east and north, causing hazy skies in other states. A shift in wind brought the smoke to the North Bay.

Check the air quality at bit.ly/2VpABGY.

You can reach Staff Writers Kathleen Coates at kathleen.coates@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5209 and Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com.

Kathleen Coates

Windsor and Cloverdale, The Press Democrat 

As someone who grew up in a small town, I enjoy covering what's happening in Windsor and Cloverdale, which are growing in their own unique ways.  I delve into issues by getting to know people and finding out what’s going on in the community. I also pay attention to animal welfare and other issues that affect Sonoma County.

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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