California Wildfire Smoke Closes Reno Schools

Record-breaking heat wave in Nevada

 

 

By SCOTT SONNER Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A blanket of hazy smoke from California wildfires prompted the closure of schools Thursday in Reno-Sparks for the second time this week due to the unhealthy air as officials urged residents to limit outdoor activity.

A record-breaking heat wave was keeping many others in Nevada indoors. For the seventh dtraight day, Las Vegas reached 110 degrees (43.3 Celsius) or hotter with Thursday’s high forecast to top out at 112 (44.4 C).

The National Weather Service extended a dense smoke advisory until 11 a.m. Friday for Reno, Lake Tahoe and much of western Nevada. The air quality index flirted with the “very unhealthy” category in Reno for the second day in a row and was considered “unhealthy” for the general population on Thursday.

“Smoke including thicker particular matter from active first across California will continue to pour into the area. Air quality may fluctuate over the next 24 hours but is expected to remain unhealthy into at least Friday morning,” the service said.

Elko also started the day with air quality unhealthy for sensitive groups but was expected to improve to moderate conditions later Thursday.

Most of the smoke in Reno and Sparks was coming from more than two-dozen big fires in the San Francisco Bay Area about 200 miles (320 kilometers) away.

District officials delayed the start of the school year one day on Monday due to smoke. Thousands of students were in classrooms Tuesday and Wednesday — using masks, social distancing and other precautions to help guard against the spread of COVID-19.

Washoe County Health District officer Kevin Dick warned that irritation from wildfire smoke makes people more susceptible to the coronavirus because the tiny particulates go straight through the lungs into the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, “dangerously hot” temperatures were expected through Friday in parts of southern Nevada, southeast California and northwest Arizona, the weather service said.

An excessive heat warning remained in effect into Friday evening in Las Vegas. The week-long stretch of 110 (43.3 Celsius) was forecast to stretch to eight days Friday before a slight cool down this weekend.

Las Vegas set a record high of 113 (45 C) on Wednesday, breaking the previous mark of 111 (43.9 C) set in 1937 and matched in 1992.

Also Wednesday, Death Valley reached a record 125 (51.6 C), a degree hotter than the old mark set in 1992, and Mercury-Desert Rock reached 109 (42.7 C), smashing the previous record of 106 (41.1 C) set in 2001.

Other records Wednesday included Ely and Eureka at 96 (35.5 C). The previous marks were 95 (35 C) in Eureka (2011) and 93 (33.8 C) in Ely (1992). Tonopah reached 98 (36.6), tying the record set in 1960.

Fallon, Lovelock and Hawthorne all hit 100 (37.8 C) on Wednesday.

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