May all Independence-Day celebrations be festive, healthy, safe

To some, the reasons may be obvious. To others, maybe not so much, but I’ve been paying really close attention of late to the weather in my neck of the woods – that’d be California’s mid-San Joaquin Valley region.

Why? Because it’s been a bit unusual to say the least.


For starters, the month of June, for the most part, has been rather mild. And, air quality, generally speaking, has been uncharacteristically good. Though that is most unusual, what you won’t find me doing is complaining.

On the Wednesday ahead is likely when the summer heat will move the coolness out and, I predict, when we’ll start to see air quality markedly worsen. Jun. 28th’s high temperature is expected to reach about 90 degrees Fahrenheit with Saturday, Jul. 1, 2023’s high temp. forecasted to be, again, in Fahrenheit, 103 degrees. Air quality, meanwhile, I expect to be in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals/Groups”-and-“Unhealthy (for everyone)” ranges that day (depending on exactly where in the Valley one resides).

If there is an absence of strong breezes, a significant lowering of temperatures, a freakish rain storm, tropical depression or hurricane to stir the atmosphere, then I fully expect to see the high temps and unhealthy air quality persist.

This year, the Fresno City Council went ahead and approved a within-the-city held Independence Day fireworks event to take place on the grounds of McLane High School, located in east central Fresno, the first such inside-city-limits 4th-of-July pyrotechnic display since, um, what, before the COVID pandemic struck? (Maybe someone reading this can shed some additional light).

As per usual practice, past experience tells us there will be the usual suspects, meaning plenty of illegal fireworks activity occurring both inside and outside city boundaries, not to mention the plethora of independently arranged pyrotechnic Independence Day celebrations, the fireworks for them, of course, legally purchased from the various stands that are temporarily set up just for this purpose.

Speaking of expectations, what I expect to see come the following Wednesday, (July 5th) morning where I reside, will be ashen skies, the airborne soot lingering for however many hours it takes to clear out and, left in its wake, triple-digit, afternoon temperature readings. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but that’s my prediction.

I further expect to hear or read about a rise in hospital emergency department visits of people who have severe asthma attacks and possibly other respiratory-related ailments and conditions brought on by all of the related July 4th activity.

I also suspect there will be a number of reported structure and/or grass fires started on account of those fireworks activities gone wrong. It happens every year, it seems.

Now, one would think with the fallout connected to these events that occurs year after year after year, there would be added precautions taken and/or protections put in place to help mitigate exactly the kind of damage and destruction and harm that is being alluded to here, such as: Only sanctioned fireworks activities allowed and limited specifically to areas like parks that have an on-the-premises water feature like a lake or pond and where there is no danger of a structure or grass fire being lit and in the event said type of fire does start on account of said activity, it is one where it can be extinguished rather easily.

What I’m not asking for is for Independence-Day fireworks cancellations. What I’m calling for instead, is the practice of common sense and the exercise of a degree of restraint, especially if it is known ahead-of-time that area air quality the day of the Independence Day holiday celebration will not be conducive to holding said outdoor fireworks events in great numbers.

If what wind’s up happening is meteorological conditions favoring fireworks celebrations, then all the better.

With that, may your Independence-Day celebration be festive, healthy and safe!

Last updated on Jun. 27, 2023 at 6:52 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

⁃ Alan Kandel

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