Wildfire smoke travels to Paris

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

On September 5, 2017, residents of the Pacific Northwest awoke to ash falling from the sky like snow. But even as ash hit the ground, wildfires burning across the western United States and Canada lofted smoke high into the atmosphere. Some of it drifted all the way to Europe.

Snapshots of the smoke’s intercontinental journey are shown in the maps above. The data were collected from September 4–7 by the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The maps show relative aerosol concentrations, with lower concentrations in yellow and higher concentrations in dark orange-brown.

Throughout the series, high concentrations of aerosols appear over their sources in the Pacific Northwest. But prevailing winds also swept up the high-altitude smoke aerosols and carried them east across the continent. On September 4, the smoke appears to have arrived over the U.S. Midwest, and by September 5 it reached Newfoundland. By September 6, the smoke cloud is obvious over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“You can see that the smoke cloud on September 6 is part of the long stream of smoke emanating from the Pacific Northwest,” said Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist working for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It almost looks like it was flung across the Atlantic.”

By September 7, the smoke had arrived over Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. These aerosols are high in the atmosphere, so they are not a serious concern for near-ground air quality and human health. Still, it shows how events on one continent can have effects halfway around the world.

“It’s not that uncommon for smoke from fires in North America to reach Europe,” Seftor said. He has casually noticed, however, that the smoke clouds reaching Europe this year seem to be larger and thicker. He also points out that they seem to be more persistent; large fires in mid-August sent smoke to Europe that hung around for days.

Wildfires were burning long before these maps were compiled, and they continue to burn even now. This natural-color image shows smoke across the upper Midwest on September 13, 2017, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Record heat in parts of the U.S. West has been cited as a possible cause for the widespread fire activity this year—which was somewhat unexpected, given the region’s wet winter and spring.

“There has been a lot of smoke over the whole northern hemisphere this year, and that is somewhat striking to me,” Seftor said. “It’s going to take awhile for everything to dissipate.”

NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen and Jeff Schmaltz, using Suomi NPP OMPS data provided courtesy of Colin Seftor (SSAI), and MODIS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Story by Kathryn Hansen.

Smoke map, Thursday night

Above: map showing the distribution of smoke from wildfires in the United States and Canada. Created by NOAA at 9:31 p.m. MDT September 14, 2017.

Maybe the rain expected in the Northern Rockies Friday and Saturday will clear out some of the smoke.

Forecast for Friday and Saturday
Forecast for Friday and Saturday. Weather.com

Wildfire smoke Sunday, and a forecast for Monday

Above: The map shows the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 3:54 p.m. MDT September 10, 2017.

(Originally published at 5:45 p.m. MDT September 10, 2017)

The map above shows the distribution of wildfire smoke Sunday afternoon. Below are two different forecasts for Monday.

smoke map September 11, 2017 wildfire
This a forecast for the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 5 p.m. MDT September 11, 2017. NOAA.
smoke map September 11, 2017 wildfire
This a forecast for the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 1 p.m. MDT September 11, 2017. (Good luck figuring out the nine shades of red in the legend.) BlueSky.

Wildfire smoke maps, September 7, 2017

Above: The map shows the distribution of wildfire smoke during the afternoon of September 7, 2017.

(Originally published at 6:04 p.m. MDT September 7, 2017.)

The map below is the experimental forecast for noon MDT on Friday September 8, 2017. Both products are from NOAA.

smoke map wildfire
The map is an experimental product — a forecast for smoke at noon MDT on Friday September 8, 2017.

Wildfire smoke creates “unhealthy” air in the Northwest U.S. Wednesday

(UPDATED at 4:28 p.m. MDT September 6, 2017)

Map wildfire smoke
Map showing the distribution of wildfire smoke. The map was created by NOAA at 1:36 p.m. MDT September 6, 2017.

The map above showing the distribution of wildfire smoke was created at 1:36 p.m. today, Wednesday. You may notice a difference between it and the other maps below that were produced earlier Wednesday morning.

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(Originally published at 9:40 a.m. MDT September 6, 2017. We will update this information through the day on Wednesday September 6.)

Air Quality Index for the northwestern states
Air Quality Index for the northwestern states at 8 a.m. MDT September 6, 2017. AirNow.

The siege of wildfires in the Northwestern United States that has persisted for several weeks continues to produce air that humans and other animals should not breathe. On Wednesday air quality classified as “unhealthy”, “very unhealthy”, or “hazardous” exists in some areas of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

More detailed information about locations in the following states is available from Airnow.gov:

Air Quality Index
Air Quality Index at 7 a.m. MDT September 6, 2017. AirNow.
Description of Air Quality Index (AQI) categories
Description of Air Quality Index (AQI) categories. The colors may not match those used on all maps and systems, but the category names and the actual AQI numbers should hopefully be the same.
smoke forecast pm2.5
Forecast for maximum concentrations of small particles (PM 2.5) such as those found in wildfire smoke, for September 6, 2017. BlueSky.

The image below is the forecast for small particles (PM 2.5) such as those found in wildfire smoke, for September 8, 2017.

smoke forecast
Forecast for small particles (PM 2.5) such as those found in wildfire smoke, for the Northwest at 2 p.m. PDT September 8, 2017. BlueSky.

Wildfire smoke and air quality, September 5, 2017

(UPDATED at 9:08 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

Here is the latest version of NOAA’s wildfire smoke tracking analysis, created at 5:36 MDT September 5, 2017.

Wildfire smoke map
Wildfire smoke map, created at 5:36 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017. NOAA.

Below is an animated version of a smoke forecast for Tuesday through Wednesday.

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(Updated at 5:47 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

Forecast for wildfire smoke
Forecast for wildfire smoke at 4 p.m. MDT September 7, 2017. By BlueSky.
Wildfire smoke Map
Wildfire smoke. Map created at 1:37 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017.

Here are two satellite photos of the Western United States. The first was taken on September 4 and the second was today, September 5.

satellite photo smoke wildfire
Satellite photo showing wildfire smoke, 4:17 p.m. MDT September 4, 2017. Click to enlarge.
satellite photo smoke wildfire
Satellite photo showing wildfire smoke, 12:42 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017.
Air Quality Index wildfire smoke
The AirNow map shows the Air Quality Index (combined particulates and ozone) at 8 a.m. MDT September 5, 2017.

Smoke from wildfires in the northwest United States is having a serious affect on some locations in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Other areas east and southeast of these states have also been affected in recent days.

An updated version of the smoke maps we have been posting this week is not available yet Tuesday morning at 9:36 a.m. MDT. We will add it to this article when it is. We checked a couple of other wildfire smoke sites and they are also not producing updated information.

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(UPDATE at 1:10 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

Here is a link to an animation from satellite images that shows smoke being blown around the west. It might take a while to load. Be patient.

We checked more smoke sites and found one that is still working. Below is the forecast for smoke at 3 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017.

Smoke forecast, 3 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017
Smoke forecast, 3 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017