Smoke map, August 20

The U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire keeps real-time track of smoke conditions in the western US.

Particulate matter from smoke causing visibility so bad it’s washing out the Tetons will be around the valley for days to come, according to federal meteorologists.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Vorst, based in Riverton, told the Jackson Hole Daily that he sees nothing in the forecast that will wipe away smoky skies, which have been around all week but became particularly pronounced Thursday.

“We’re kind of in a stagnant pattern where we need something to wash it out,” Vorst said. “In the near future it doesn’t look like we’re going to see that kind of weather.”

Smoke will settle into the valleys of western Wyoming at least through the weekend, he said.

The U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire and Smoke map shows that wildfire smoke is currently visible in every state west of the Mississippi River. There are three primary thrusts of air concentrating particulates through New Mexico, Arizona, northern California, Nevada and western Idaho.

The arc of concentrated smoke affecting Jackson Hole traces to conflagrations burning in the Sierra Nevadas of central California. From there, it’s heading over the Great Basin, past the Snake River Plain and then sweeping across central Wyoming before dissipating in eastern Colorado and western South Dakota.

From his Riverton office, Vorst said the smoke is similarly affecting visibility there, and that he could barely see the outline of the mighty Wind River Range to his west.

At least as of Thursday afternoon, some places have it worse, the smoke maps show. Cheyenne, for instance, is being affected by the same stream of smoke dulling the skies over Jackson Hole and also by the growing wildfires that are burning through the Southern Rockies of Colorado.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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