The breathing is a little easier in the Northern San Joaquin Valley Thursday morning.
Wildfires that have devastated areas of Solano, Sonoma and Napa counties sent smoke into the Valley on Wednesday, prompting repeated callers to emergency dispatchers about possible fires in the area.
On Wednesday afternoon, fine particulate matter concentration — which can cause breathing difficulties, particularly in people who have asthma and other health concerns — hit the Level 5/very unhealthy, according to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The numbers, measured as particles contained in a cubic meter of air, spiked at 142 in Turlock on Wednesday.
By Thursday, monitors in Turlock and Modesto showed air back into the healthy range with fine particulate matter concentration back in the single digits in the morning; in the early afternoon, Modesto had reached a still-healthy level 10.
Winds and heat can change conditions quickly, and people are advised to keep an eye on the skies. If you can see or smell smoke, the district advises, you should assume the air is unhealthy and take precautions. Information on how the wildfires are impacting local air is available at http://www.valleyair.org/wildfires.
A red flag warning — meaning windy, dry conditions — remains in effect until 5 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service said. But temperatures are expected to remain in the mid 70s for the next few days, with overnight lows dropping to near 50. And by the end of next week, we may even see some rain in our area.
“Our computer models are starting to hint at the potential for rain toward the end of next week across Northern California,” the Weather Service said in a post on its Facebook page Thursday. “It's still pretty far out, so things could change...but we're keeping our fingers crossed given our current fire situation!”