DENVER (CBS4) – The heat wave that started over the weekend will continue on Tuesday with high temperatures well into the 90s under hazy skies. Unlike recent days, most of the haze is being cause by ozone and not wildfire smoke.

The smoke originating from fires on the West Coast will be mostly transported north of Colorado through Wednesday and will be mainly found in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

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(source: CBS)

So while limited smoke will still be present in Colorado (including instate smoke from the 6,000 acre Morgan Creek wildfire near Steamboat Springs), most of the haze is being caused by ground-level ozone.

Summer ozone occurs every year but there have been far more Ozone Action Days compared to normal this season. From the start of the season on June 1 through July 27, there have been 35 such days. That matches the average total for the entire season which ends August 30 and helps prove this summer has been particularly bad when it comes to air quality.

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(source: CBS)

It’s called an “Action” day because state health officials ask everyone along Colorado’s urban corridor to take action to help reduce ozone levels. These actions include combining car trips and skipping any unnecessary trips when driving a gas powered vehicle, mowing lawns in the evening, and filling up gas tanks in the early in the morning or late evening. Biking or walking to work when possible is also a great way to help reduce ozone pollution.

High levels of ozone is caused by pullulates from oil and gas production, vehicles, paints and solvents, lawn mowers, and more “cooking” under the summer sun. The more pollutants, the higher the concentration of ozone, and the more adverse the health effects. Ozone can cause stinging eyes and inhaling it can cause chest pains, coughing, and trigger breathing difficulty including asthma attacks.

And just like wildfire smoke, ozone creates a lot of haze and significantly reduces visibility.

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View from I-25 at Belleview looking north with high ozone causing haze and reduced visibility (source: CBS)

The CBS4 Weather Team anticipates additional Ozone Action Days will be declared for at least Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Meteorologist Ashton Altieri