Smoke forecast for mid-June

It is only mid-June and we are already looking at large-scale wildland fire smoke issues.

These maps predict the distribution of smoke at 6 p.m. MDT, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Vertically integrated smoke depicts all of the smoke in a vertical column, including smoke high in Earth’s atmosphere and can produce red sunrises and sunsets. In some cases where it is only at high altitudes it may not be very noticeable on the ground.

Near-surface smoke refers to the smoke that will hover within 8 meters (26 feet) of the ground—the kind responsible for burning eyes and aggravated asthma.

No matter how you slice it, it ain’t any fun. The worst part of summer, every year.

Unvaccinated? You’re in trouble!


David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

As much of the country emerges from masking and social distancing, undervaccinated pockets in the U.S. still threaten to bring the virus roaring back.

Less than 25% of the population is fully vaccinated in at least 482 counties, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by Bloomberg News. Many of these counties are more rural and less economically advantaged than the rest of the U.S., and a majority of their voters in the last presidential election chose Donald Trump, according to the analysis of 2,700 U.S. counties.

Though more than 174 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, accounting for about 64.6% of the adult population, such averages belie stark gaps in vaccination rates at a local level. With more contagious versions of the virus like the delta variant taking hold, this creates opportunities for further spread.

Hidden pockets of low rates of vaccinations at the local level have been a challenge before in the U.S. “When you start to look at communities, you start to really unveil very, very low vaccination rates that tend to get averaged out when you’re looking at the entire country or even on an entire state,” said Maimuna Majumder, a health informatics researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. Viruses don’t spread at a national or statewide level, she said, but among friends, family and neighbors in a community, passing it to each other as people go about their daily lives.

I find it difficult to write polite phrases about people who choose to remain unvaccinated. Whatever the reason. It matters not whether religion or ignorance, fear or just plain stupidity governs your decision-making. You’re not only risking your own life. Apparently, you don’t care if you kill your children, your neighbors or the folks who live down the street.

The reasons for getting vaccinated aren’t new. I had to learn about them the first time I was vaccinated. That was in 1947. This is nothing daring. It doesn’t take anymore brains than stopping for a red light.