Smoke again impacting Truckee-Tahoe air quality; Rain, high elevation snow expected this weekend

Staff Report
A tanker fighting the Mosquito Fire near Foresthill.
Provided/Cal Fire

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Smoke from the Mosquito Fire is again impacting air quality Friday morning at Lake Tahoe.

The North Tahoe-Truckee region is dealing with very unhealthy-to-hazardous air quality while South Tahoe has a little better conditions. All schools in the Truckee-Tahoe school district have been canceled on Friday. 

The National Weather Service in Reno is calling for smoke to affect air quality throughout the day into Saturday before a shift in weather may provide relief from the smoke.

“There is no significant change in the wind pattern so we will see a similar progression of smoke for the region today,” said a statement from the weather service. “Poor air quality and reduced visibility in smoke this morning will improve somewhat by midday. Then, the next smoke push is projected to sweep into the region this afternoon and evening. The good news is we should see improvement by Sunday into Monday as a trough moves into the west coast, bringing much cooler temperatures and chances for rain and high elevation snow through next Wednesday.”

The Mosquito Fire burning near Oxbow Reservoir in both Placer and El Dorado counties, is the largest wildfire burning in the state. As of Friday morning, the blaze had consumed 69,908 acres, a growth of a couple thousand acres overnight, and is 20% contained. It has destroyed 70 structures, damaged 10 more and is threatening more than 9,000 others. More than 11,200 people remain evacuated from their homes and 3,873 firefighters are battling the blaze.

A view of Lake Tahoe Friday morning from D.L. Bliss State Park on the Tahoe’s West Shore.

From the Friday morning incident report: “Fire behavior Thursday night was moderate. South of Foresthill, night-shift crews had a very productive night as they conducted a successful firing operation to secure the southwest side of the fire. In the Chicken Hawk area, crews extinguished hotspots along the fireline. Night Operations Chief Don Fregulia reported seeing “no glows” when he patrolled the area early Friday morning.

“The fireline along the Deadwood Road is also holding nicely. He complimented the day-shift crews at this morning’s crew briefing for their work — ‘The direct-suppression work at the head of the fire is evident at night and we’re very appreciative. You [day shift] have made up a ton of ground on the east side. While not all the dots connect up just yet, there’s excellent work going on, and it’s really slowing down the progression of the fire to the north and the east. From the southeast corner westward along the entire southern side, night-shift crews patrolled and mopped up hotspots as they encountered them.'”

A late summer storm is expected to bring cooler conditions, strong winds, rain and high elevation snow starting on Sunday and lasting through Wednesday, the service said.

The service is calling for a high near 70 on Friday and Saturday with 5-10 mph southerly winds.

A 20% chance of rain and snow showers enter the basin late Saturday night/early Sunday morning with snow levels about 8,100 feet overnight. Gusty winds will reach up to 25 mph through Sunday where the chance of precipitation rises to 70%.

The chances for showers increase to 80% on Monday with the snow level hovering around 8,500-9,000 feet. The high temp is expected to be in the low 50s.

Chances for showers and thunderstorms last into Wednesday before pleasant conditions return by the following weekend, the service said.

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