Wildfire smoke triggers worst air quality in world in Tahoe

ByMike Nicco, Wayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Wildfire smoke sparks 'emergency' health warning over Lake Tahoe
Smoke from the Caldor Fire & Northern California wildfires is creating an unhealthy smoke forecast, according to ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco.

LAKE TAHOE -- Smoke produced by the Caldor Fire led to Lake Tahoe claiming the worst air quality in the world Tuesday morning, according to ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco.

"This is the prevailing wind flow in the lower parts of the atmosphere," said Nicco. "You can see it's actually going to get worse as we head into the afternoon hours today and into the evening hours."

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The Caldor Fire grew to more than 117,000 acres Tuesday to threaten areas leading up to the South Lake Tahoe Basin, according to Cal Fire.

"The winds - look at them shift," said Nicco. "They're so tricky in the mountains because of the different elevations."

Lake Tahoe's bowl-shaped valley has also helped trap a considerable amount of hazy smoke from dissipating.

"I think there's going to be a lot of smoke stuck in the valleys, which is what is causing such high pollution concentration right now," explained Nicco.

Lake Tahoe residents and visitors are calling conditions "miserable" as wildfire smoke continues to choke the region.

Two upcoming wind events will help provide enough push to clear some of the current smoke away.

Winds will come out of the west on Wednesday evening and blow all of the heaviest and most dangerous smoke through Lake Tahoe, said Nicco. Another wind event during the overnight hours into Thursday will spread the smoke even further east.

"But it's still going to leave plenty of unhealthy air" added Nicco. "It's going to be dangerous the next two days."

You can always track the air quality in every Bay Area neighborhood by clicking here.