DENVER (CBS4) - Several fires burning northwest of the Denver metro area area will send smoke toward the Front Range again on Thursday causing air quality to suffer. Meanwhile the latest information on Colorado's drought was just released and the data is grim.
As of early Thursday morning, 20 counties in Colorado and 3 counties in southeast Wyoming were under an Air Quality Alert because of wildfire smoke.
The majority of the smoke is coming from the Mullen Fire west of Laramie, Wyoming.
Other fires are also contributing smoke including the Cameron Peak fire 40 miles west of Fort Collins, the Middle Fork fire near Steamboat Springs, and the Williams Fork fire just northeast of Summit County.
The air in the Denver metro area has been declared by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to be "unhealthy for sensitive groups". These groups include older adults, very young children, and anyone with asthma. All of these residents are encouraged to spend more time indoors than outdoors through Friday.
Better air quality is currently expected by the weekend.
In terms of the drought, the latest update released Thursday morning shows 99% of Colorado has at least moderate drought, 89% of the state has severe drought and extreme drought is now covering 53% of Colorado including more than half of the Denver metro area. Most troubling is the emergence of exceptional drought on the Western Slope in parts of Delta, Garfield, and Mesa Counties. This is the worse drought category possible and now covers about 3% of the state.
There is serious concern the percentages for all drought categories could grow even more in the coming weeks as very dry weather continues.
There is zero chance for moisture anywhere along the Front Range for at least the next 7-10 days.
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