SAN FRANCISCO (NEXSTAR) – That haze in the sky above you may not be smog or typical atmospheric moisture. What you are looking at may actually be wildfire smoke drifting hundreds or even thousands of miles across the country.
Millions across California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Idaho have been hit with unhealthy and at times hazardous air conditions since some of the nation’s largest wildfires on record sparked in mid-August. But a change in the weather has sent some of that smoke drifting all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
A modeling tool from NASA’s Global Modeling Assimilation Office forecasts smoke crossing the entire country between now and September 18th, hovering in nearly every contiguous state in the process. Now a tool from the Associated Press allows you to see how much particulate matter is in the atmosphere in your community. Darker colors indicate poorer air quality on the map below.
While the tool shows some level of particulate matter in every state, conditions beyond wildfires may be contributing. Where there is wildfire smoke, residents on the ground may not notice smoke at all.
“For some of these, they won’t see it at the surface,” Meteorologist Jessica Chiari of the NWS Boise office said of the NASA map’s wide footprint across the states. “It’s at least going to be drifting aloft though.”
The eastward movement of the smoke has already caused some improvement in Air Quality Index readings for residents living close to the Pacific Coast, west of most fire zones.
Chiari says much of the Pacific Northwest will remain socked in for the next few days, but a potentially strong weather system is on the radar for late this week. While that event may not entirely clear out the skies, it may push out more smoke and potentially drop rain on some of the worst wildfires in Oregon.