SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A low pressure system spinning in the Pacific off the Northwest, began driving away a plume of unhealthy smoke-filled air Wednesday, clearing the gloomy skies that have been draped over the San Francisco Bay Area for weeks.
Air Quality Level reading for the region were all at good levels ranging a 6 in San Francisco at 7 a.m. to 31 near Mt. Diablo — a drastic change over the last 24 hours.
On Tuesday morning those same reading were ranging from 178 to 202 in the unhealthy category.
“In terms of smoke and air quality there will be continued improvement,” National Weather Service forecasters said. “In the short term AQI sensors continue to show steady improvement with continued, albeit light, onshore breezes. One caveat will be near the Dolan Fire in Big Sur where southwest winds aloft will continue to push smoke towards Salinas, into the South Bay and portions of the East Bay but most of that smoke should remain aloft.”
Good Morning Bay Area! Latest smoke model simulation. Note this is near surface smoke versus smoke aloft. General trend will be for improving conditions except near the Dolan Fire. Red spots are heat. Disregard the East Bay spots which are refineries. #DolanFire #CAwx #Smoke pic.twitter.com/OhornywufK
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) September 16, 2020
The skies began to clear on Tuesday afternoon, allowing local residents, who have limited their time outdoors since the fires began in mid-August, to emerge from their homes.
“It’s really a relief, I thought it would never end, honestly,” Burlingame resident Emma Gubbels told KPIX 5.
Tuesday night was the first time many people spent leisurely time out in downtown Burlingame.
“Even with COVID, you could go in your backyard, but you couldn’t really even go outside, so it was kind of sad,” said Katie Rau of Burlingame.
Some businesses chose to limit their hours or close completely due to the hazardous air over the last few days.
Others stayed open, like Caffe Central, but sales dropped 75 percent, at first. But repeat customers are back.
“We have regular customer that come out, since they work from home they like to sit at the cafe outside and use the laptop. It is the best that can happen to us obviously to see them back and they feel comfortable to sit,” said Owner Ramin Vahabi.
La Vie Nail Bar on Burlingame Avenue said business jumped 30 percent on Tuesday.
“This is heaven,” said Anne Pernichele of Portland.
She just flew in from Oregon, where fierce wildfires are raging.
“It was super smoky and smoggy. You couldn’t see more than across the street from the house to read the stop sign, not even 100 feet of visibility up there,” she added.
While Bay Area air quality officials had issued a ‘Spare The Air’ through Wednesday, the clearing skies could bring an end to a record run of 30 straight days under warning conditions.