SAN JOSE, Calif. - For a third consecutive day, poor air quality produced a familiar sight in the South Bay--bad air that's visibly blanketing the area.
In the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose, new mom Clarrissa Pulido wasted no time getting her 4-month-old daughter Aubriella out of the elements and into the family car. The enemy she feared was literally everywhere.
"We try to stay inside. The other day air quality index (AQI) was over 150 at one point. So we decided just to stay inside; have the air conditioner running," she said.
The bad actor that has some South Bay residents hunkered indoors is visible from the higher vantage point of the East Foothills: A haze hangs over Downtown San Jose and beyond, as smoke from wildfires burning miles to the north continues flowing south.
"Most of the smoke is in the lowest layer, about a thousand feet deep. And that’s why you can’t see anything in the Bay Area right now. Because all that smoke is concentrated pretty close to the surface. It’s also the reason AQI is through the roof," said Dr. Craig Clements, director of the San Jose State University Fire Weather Research Laboratory. "Right now the weather pattern is bringing that smoke to the south."
Some school districts continue to limit students' outdoor exposure, by moving activities indoors – or canceling them altogether.
"We’ve been informing our staff to keep windows closed in classrooms…keep their air filters on high…make sure that they are keeping anybody who’s really sensitive to air pollution – maybe people with asthma – inside," said John Sasaki, a spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District.
Added San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, "It’s basically stay indoors. Reduce any kind of outdoor physical activities."
Many health experts warn the longer unhealthy air lingers, the more it can harm those in vulnerable groups.
"As the days progress those harms actually accumulate…we see more people coming in further into the episodes," said Dr. Matt Willis, the Marin County public health officer. "Our emergency departments do start seeing more people coming in, with pulmonary conditions in general."
For Clarrissa Pulido, the message and proper course of action are both crystal clear.
"Typically we like to open the windows at night. But we’ve been keeping them shut. Because the smoke is really bad, and don’t want to get anybody sick," she said.
Experts believe conditions will improve through the rest of the week and into the weekend.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv