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Smoke in the Sierra

Dear Bishop Guest,

During wildfire season, which now occurs throughout the year, we get many inquiries about  Bishop and the adjoining area’s wildfire status, air quality, and smoke conditions.

To help you see, learn and understand existing conditions so you make the best determination about your comfort with any given situation, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau has created the FAQS (aka Fire, Air Quality, Smoke) Tutorial to quickly and briefly provide you important information to make good travel decisions.


Since we need wildfires to have smoke which leads to poor air quality, let’s first start with where fires are occurring.  The link below identifies wildfires in the United States.  Just zoom into Bishop, California to get a good idea of what fires are occurring in the immediate area, their size, suppression status, and more.

Smoke Projections:

The link below is a smoke dispersal website that project where fire scientists think wildfire smoke will drift.  It is based on human projections and can be incorrect if conditions change.  It covers the entire country, but currently defaults to wildfires and smoke in California and Nevada.

You will see that the projections can be in different increments of time.  The link is set for smoke projections over a three-day window.  You want to make sure that the dates of the run are accurate.  It is easy to correct if they are not current.  Just go to the “Domain” tab in the sidebar menu on the left of the window, click on it.   Then click the “Show Latest Runs” tab.  The smoke projection graphic will update  to the current date in the upper right hand window of the screen.  Check it to make sure it is reading its most current date.  If you are travelling across different states, you can monitor smoke conditions elsewhere.

Air Quality — What You See Is What You Get.

The next several links are a series of webcams to show in real-time what the area’s visual quality looks like.

The first are webcams of the Sierra Nevada.  This shows all webcams in the Sierra and is included because we “provide you more than you expect”.  ***NEW TOOL

The next webcam links show localized Eastern Sierra features including Bishop, Mt Whitney, Owens Lake, Mammoth Mountain Summit, and more:







The next links are air quality and its impact on health.

The last air quality link entitled “Air Now – Fire & Smoke” is quite good.  On this link, consider looking at where you are located to get a read of your air quality health number;  then get Bishop’s air quality health number. Quickly compare them to see which is better.  This is especially useful if there is widespread smoke and your location has poorer air quality than Bishop.




A little historical perspective on Wildfire Management from the Cal Fire Museum