Central peninsula residents woke up to a dense haze Thursday, as winds pushed smoke created by the ongoing Swan Lake Fire to the west.
A dense smoke advisory is in effect for the Kenai Peninsula until Friday afternoon, and dense smoke will be noticed in Kenai, Soldotna and Homer, according to a release from the National Weather Service.
Pam Szatanek, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, said the wind shift may give the eastern peninsula a reprieve from heavy smoke.
The Alaska Wildland Fire Information, an interagency service providing wildland fire information for the state, notes the communities of Sterling, Soldotna, Kenai and Homer would have seen the most smoke Thursday, decreasing air quality. According to their update, smoke will move out to the east Friday with another wind shift — impacting eastern peninsula communities like Cooper Landing and Seward. The update says Soldotna experienced air quality measurements in the unhealthy and very unhealthy ranges.
Wednesday evening, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District canceled all outdoor sporting events until further notice, including the upcoming varsity football games scheduled for all five high schools for Friday and Saturday and the annual Tsalteshi Invitational cross-country meet — which was to be hosted Saturday on the Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview Middle School.
The heavy smoke is impacting other local events, including the final race of the Soldotna Cycle Series at Tsalteshi Trails. The race was slated to occur Thursday night, but has been postponed until Aug. 29, conditions permitting.
“As always, racers need to make their own decisions about their capability to ride, whether that is through poor air conditions, or challenges in the trail,” an update from Tsalteshi Trails Association said.
The Lost Lake Run near Seward has also been canceled due to poor air quality, according to a post on the event’s Facebook page. The 15.5-mile backcountry race takes runners from the Primrose Campground at the south end of Kenai Lake to the Bear Creek Fire Station near Seward.
The event annually draws in hundreds of race applicants, with last year’s race bringing 665 runners.