Wildfire smoke chokes Lake Tahoe Basin


The majestic ringing mountains of Lake Tahoe were barely visible Sunday. They hid behind a thick curtain of smoke hanging over the California-Nevada state line.

The beautiful summer scene that typically unfolds around the lake basin was disturbed intermittently in July by smoke from wildfires burning in the Sierra Nevada range, pumping out towers of soot and ash air.

Smoke from both the Dixie fire north of Lake Tahoe and the Tamarack fire in the south has affected the region.

“Maybe not the best morning to sit outside and take in the views,” the Reno National Weather Service office said on Twitter on Sunday. “Air quality remains poor in the region due to smoke.”

Twitter user Paul Fremeau shared this image of smoke from the Tamarack fire from Lake Tahoe (near Eagle Lake) on July 19, 2021.

Twitter user Paul Fremeau shared this image of smoke from the Tamarack fire from Lake Tahoe (near Eagle Lake) on July 19, 2021.

Courtesy of Paul Fremeau

On Sunday, the winds pushed a mass of soot air from the Dixie fire over the Tahoe and Reno basins.

“The majority of the smoke is from the Dixie fire,” said Geri Diaz, a forecaster with the weather service. “It pours over Nevada and east of the crest. It initially moves to the east and then loops into the Tahoe Basin. Anything east of the crest is going to be pretty smoky.”

The website Purple Air measured air quality across the country, and on Monday it showed locations in the Lake Tahoe basin at unhealthy levels and some spots in Reno, Nevada, dangerous level areas.

Conditions may improve Monday afternoon, Diaz said, and westerly winds are expected to pick up. A rotating monsoonal wave in the Sierra on Monday night to Tuesday could also clear up the air. However, there is also concern thunderstorm activity could make the fires worse, with lightning and high winds in the forecast.

The Lake Tahoe Basin was shaken in with wildfire smoke on July 23, 2021.

The Lake Tahoe Basin was rocked in with wildfire smoke on July 23, 2021.

Twitter: @ mikew71772

Many on social media commented on the strange scene around the lake and posted images showing the devastating environmental impacts of hundreds of wildfires burning across California.

“I know people are all ga-ga about Tahoe but I have to say, I’m here now and as usual feeling like I could take it or leave it,” wrote one Twitter users July 24, when the smoke was bad. “Having an outdoor wedding go on today when the AQI is 150+ out of smoke fire could be part of it.”


“When I went to Lake Tahoe as a kid I don’t remember ever having to deal with smoke from wildfires,” shares another July 25th. “This is alarming.”



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