Air quality dramatically worsens in the Bay Area

The Bay Area’s record string of consecutive “Spare the Air” days shows no signs of ending. Friday marks the 25th day in a row. Thursday’s sky was not the dramatic orange glow from Wednesday but even though the sky may have looked a little better, experts said the air quality was much worse.

At Kezar Pub in San Francisco, football fans were not bothered by the smoky conditions for the NFL season opener against Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.

“The smoke is heavy and we are all trying to brave through it,” said Adam Rogers of San Francisco. “Smoke or no smoke we are here to watch football.”

The bar’s manager was not expecting the outdoor patio to fill up ahead of kickoff.

“Today I’m kind of surprised that we got this crowd right now because of the weather,” said Kezar Pub Manager Santos Chi.

Thursday's skies were much different than Wednesday when most of the Bay Area was covered in a strange orange glow. People felt the difference.

“This are clearer visually today but unfortunately the air quality is much worse,” said Aaron Richardson of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokesman.

Richardson said the smoke above the marine layer was brought closer to the ground due to changing temperatures. A fire and smoke map shows air quality unhealthy air for most of the Bay Area.

“If air quality is in the unhealthy category you should stay indoors with the windows and doors closed especially when it’s cooler than it is now,” said Richardson.

Experts said most at risk are people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, the young and elderly.

They also said while masks protect against COVID-19, they don’t protect from the fine particles of air pollution.

All of this, some say, is fueled by climate change.

“A portion of the fires are attributable to the increase in temperatures, it's getting drier over land,” said Patrick Brown of the SJSU Meteorology and Climate Science Department. “You can connect the red skies to climate change.”

The smoky skies is a stark reminder of what might be a new normal.

“Unfortunately it kind of looks like this is the trend,” said Richardson. “We need to be aware there’s going to be a significant wildfire season every summer and this is sort of the legacy of climate change.”