Colorado weather: High temperatures persist as out-of-state wildfire smoke triggers alerts

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Trucks drive through early morning fog on Hwy. 34 in Washington County, Colorado, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

Smoke from wildfires burning in Idaho and Montana has turned Colorado’s skies hazy and gray. 

Due to the smoky skies, as well as high temperatures and dry conditions, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an air quality health advisory for much of the northern Front Range, including Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. By early Wednesday morning, air quality had already reached moderate or unhealthy conditions for most of the state. 

Wildfire smoke can be dangerous for people further from the fire’s origin. It also poses several health threats, especially for those with preexisting conditions. Inhaling smoke can also cause headaches, a runny nose, a cough, and difficulty breathing. Younger people and older people tend to be more susceptible. State public health officials say those prone to respiratory symptoms should reduce outdoor activity. 

Wednesday’s weather conditions will likely persist until Thursday, before dropping significantly this weekend. Colorado has, for the most part, avoided late summer wildfires this year, but a fire weather watch remains in effect for much of the Eastern Plains.

The heat has already broken or matched records in Denver and parts of the Western Slope. Weather officials say temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday are also expected to break record levels. 

The heatwave has forced several schools, including more than 30 Denver Public Schools campuses, to close early. Many of those schools do not have air conditioning in classrooms.