DENVER — Hazy skies clouded the Denver metro area on Monday morning primarily due to smoke drifting in from a wildfire in Arizona.
The National Weather Service said smoke from the Pipeline Fire about six miles outside Flagstaff is moving northeast into the Colorado mountains, Front Range, and eastern plains.
The fire was first reported on Sunday morning and as of Monday at 11 a.m.., it had burned an estimated 4,500 acres. Evacuations and pre-evacuations have been ordered. The cause of the Pipeline Fire is under investigation.
The NWS said most of the smoke is traveling high in the air as it makes its way into Colorado, so it's only near the ground in the high country. However, it will concentrate at low elevations later Monday afternoon as the temperature increases.
The smoke is also carrying dust from southern California.
These hazy and smoky conditions will likely continue through the week, NWS said, but it will not bring widespread health impacts.
"Today is probably the worst of it, at least for the next few days," said Bruno Rodriguez, meteorologist with NWS.
He noted that the summer of 2021 was an "exceptional year" for fires in the western United States, which caused poor air quality alerts statewide. On one weekend, Denver's air quality was among the worst in major cities across the world.
"It was pretty much an incessant amount of fires everywhere from the Rockies to the West Coast," Rodriguez said. Looking ahead, he added, "The outlook isn't all that great as we head into the summer."
"We can definitely expect at least some periods of fairly bad air quality," he said. "It's hard to say how consistent that will be and how that will compare to last year, but overall, definitely expect some more of what we're seeing today."
A cold front on Monday evening will decrease the smoke and improve air quality for Tuesday across northern and central Colorado, but periods of smoke will remain for southern Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Air quality will improve by Wednesday.
Watch a timelapse from Monday morning through the afternoon below.
The NWS said this smoke may reduce the temperature around the Front Range by a degree or two, but won't have much more of an impact heat-wise. In Denver, the temperature will be reduced by about one degree — resulting in a high of 99 degrees, which is the record high for June 13. NWS said it expects Denver to either tie or break this record.
Statewide, the dry, hot and windy conditions will lead to critical fire weather. The NWS explained that a red flag warning has not been issued due to very green fuels, which lower the risk of a fast-growing fire.
Call 911 if you see a column of smoke or flames, but authorities across the state are asking residents not to call to report this hazy smoke.