Heavy smoke rolled into the central peninsula Monday, with Soldotna experiencing some of the worst air conditions. The particulate matter measurementt for Soldotna was 185, which is considered unhealthy. Good air quality is particulate matter measured at 50 or below. Cooper Landing measured the highest as of Monday evening, at 295. Tynoek measured at 127, Seward at 63 and Homer at 50.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued Monday an air quality advisory for Southcentral through 4 p.m. Wednesday. The advisory says air quality will range between good to hazardous, depending on wind flow and proximity to fires.
Any communities directly downwind of the fire will experience hazardous levels of smoke, the advisory said, with the worse conditions occurring overnight and in the early morning hours as the atmosphere cools bringing smoke to the surface. During the day, surface heating will carry smoke up, temporarily improving air quality.
Between Monday and Tuesday, Cooper Landing and Seward will be most impacted by smoke. Smoke is expected to clear on the western side of the peninsula with a northwest flow on Tuesday.
In smoke impacted areas, the Department of Environmental Conservation advises people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children to avoid prolonged exertion. The advisory asks that everyone else limit prolonged exertion.
All schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District opened on time Monday. School is canceled Tuesday for Cooper Landing, following an intensification of the Swan Lake Fire.
The district is monitoring air quality and working with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, the Great Basin Management Team and other agencies, a Monday press release from the district said.
School administrators will determine if recess, outdoor classroom activities, and sports practice will take place based on air quality conditions in their immediate area, the district said.
Cancellations or restrictions may happen if conditions change rapidly.
“KPBSD places the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and parents before any other consideration,” Superintendent John O’Brien said in the release. “Since the resurgence of the Swan Lake Fire after the wind event on Saturday, August 17, 2019, and two new fire starts, our community has been challenged by smoke, fire, road closures, and is on edge. Depending on wind direction, every region of our district has also contended with unhealthy air quality.”