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Will Tuesday be the Bay Area’s final Spare the Air alert for 2023?

a hazy sunrise during fire season
Tuesday’s Spare the Air alert is likely to be the final warning for the year, as storm systems will arrive in the Bay Area on Wednesday. | Source: Julie Makinen/The Standard

As families and residents mark the Christmas holiday with meals and presents, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has called a Spare The Air alert for Tuesday.

Although the district did not officially call an alert for Monday, it did ask residents to avoid lighting fires or burning wood or other fuel sources, citing the health risks that smoke pollution and other fine airborne particles would pose to sensitive residents.

“We strongly encourage #BayArea residents to refrain from burning wood this holiday weekend,” the district said Sunday in a post to X/Twitter. “Without additional wood burning, air quality is expected to be in the moderate range. Wood burning during the Christmas holiday can significantly impact localized areas and neighborhoods.”

On Monday afternoon, the district issued an alert for Tuesday, saying that air quality was “expected to be unhealthy due to weather conditions trapping wood smoke pollution near the ground.” The alert makes it illegal to burn wood or manufactured fire logs in fireplaces, woodstoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices all day Tuesday.

The district did not issue an alert for Wednesday, as changing weather conditions are likely to rule out the need for one. According to forecasts from the National Weather Service, the first of two storm systems are set to arrive in the Bay Area late Tuesday. 

While the first system is expected to bring between half an inch to two inches of rain to North Bay cities and towns and less than an inch to the rest of the Bay Area, a second system arriving late Thursday and lingering through Saturday could bring 1 to 1.5 inches of rain to San Francisco. In addition, an active pattern could see additional precipitation help ring in the first few days of the New Year.

With expected impacts from strong southerly winds, officials suggested residents returning from post-Christmas travels budget extra time, as well as space between vehicles on roadways, clear gutters and storm drains, and consider removing or battening down weather-vulnerable holiday displays such as balloons or lighting.

“In addition to the rain, strong southerly winds are in store on Wednesday,” the weather service said on X/Twitter. “This combination could lead to some trees coming down. Take advantage of the nice weather Tuesday to make any preparations and take down the blow-up Santa.”

George Kelly can be reached at