SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — There is plenty of confusion when it comes to Air Quality Index readings during this time of smoke-filled skies from the historic outbreak of wildfires.

There are numbers everywhere. Purple Air. Air Now. So what are the best numbers?


Click On Image To AirNow.gov.

KPIX 5 meteorologist Darren Peck relies on Air Now

“With air quality reaching their most unhealthy levels of the past 3 weeks, now is the most important time to be aware of the quality of the air before you go outside,” Peck said. “Many of us have gotten familiar with a few sources to check on (purpleair.com, airnow.com ….etc are two of the most commonly used) and there can be some confusion as to which ones are the most accurate….and why for that matter some give different readings than others.”

Airnow.gov is the gold standard when it comes to knowing the precise measurement of pm 2.5.

What is also certain is the level of smoke and ash in the air has Bay Area air quality officials concerned. They have issued a ‘Spare the Air’ alert for a record 26th straight day and warned the conditions may not drastic improve until next week.

Air Quality Resources:

“A thick blanket of smoke from the many wildfires blazing in California and Oregon is causing unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “More than ever this weekend, residents should track air quality conditions in their communities and protect their health and avoid smoke exposure by staying indoors.”

National Weather Service forecasters echoed Broadbent’s comments.

“Large amounts of smoke remain offshore while current smoke activity from the Creek, Dolan, Bobcat and Sequoia Complex fires continues to impact portions of the Central Coast and Bay Area,” the weather service said. “Bottom line is we have smoke coming at us from virtually all directions so expect continued smoke impacts through today and into Sunday morning. ”

The NWS forecasters did hint that clearer skies may be on tap for next week.

“There is some hint that increasing southwest winds by Sunday afternoon could bring some cleaner air into the region,” they said.

They also posted a satellite photo showing the plume stretching hundreds of miles into the Pacific.

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