Smoky skies to return to Colorado on Thursday evening, Friday

smoky flatirons in boulder
Posted at 12:19 PM, Jun 16, 2022

DENVER — Smoke from out-of-state wildfires will once again impact Colorado on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Plumes of smoke from the Pipeline Fire and Haywire Fire near Flagstaff, Arizona and Hermits Peak Fire and Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico have been traveling north and northeast into Colorado this week, with Monday being one of the worst in the year so far, though experts say Colorado may be in for a particularly smoky summer.

Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico
Aerial view from June 14 of the Calf Canyon Fire burning in New Mexico.

On Thursday morning, southeast and eastern Colorado will see smoky conditions from the New Mexico fires, though it will stay high in the air.

Much of the Centennial State will be covered in light smoke into the evening, with areas of heavy smoke in south-central Colorado.

smoke map for June 16-17 2022.jpg

By the early hours on Friday, the smoke will worsen along the Interstate 25 corridor and eastern plains. It will move to include the western half of the state around 9 a.m. before the air begins to clear by the afternoon.

The NWS said this smoke on Friday will lower the air quality in Colorado. However, storms will move into the southwest this weekend, which will reduce smoke impacts.

On Monday, Bruno Rodriguez, meteorologist with NWS, said all the ingredients are present for a smoky summer in Colorado, from wildfires both in and outside of the state.

Last year, Denver had more than 75 ozone action days thanks to the dry conditions, vehicle emissions and wildfire smoke. On one weekend in 2021, Denver's air quality was among the worst in major cities across the world.

Rodriguez said it's not clear if we'll see a summer like that again, but it's safe to see we'll have periods of poor air quality.