Above: Satellite photo from Sunday afternoon, November 20, showing plumes of smoke.
The amount of smoke created by wildfires in the southeastern United States decreased on Sunday. In satellite photos from last week smoke could be seen that covered large portions of South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. However as you can see in the photo below, the smoke increased on Monday.
The amount and location of the smoke varies depending on the wind direction and the fire activity. It is difficult to predict more than a day in advance the quantity and location of smoke.
Below are maps predicting air quality information and the location of smoke for today, November 21.
Above: Snow cover in the United States, November 18, 2016. The Weather Channel.
Precipitation in the northwest quarter of the United States this week has put even more of a damper on the occurrence of wildfires, the execution of prescribed fires, and agricultural burning.
After weeks of warm, dry weather the Black Hills finally received a little precipitation over the last 24 hours. I won’t know the exact amount at my house until the snow in the rain gauge melts, but there was an inch or two of the white stuff on the ground. Today is sunny with a high of 32 predicted, so maybe it will trickle through the tipping bucket this afternoon.
Small amounts of precipitation in southern Saskatchewan may be the reason smoke from that area is no longer immigrating into the United States, as you can see in the two maps below. The first one was the smoke forecast for November 15 and the one after that is for today, November 18.
However, prescribed fires, wildfires, or agricultural burning in Louisiana, Arkansas, and eastern Texas are still producing large quantities of smoke that at times moves north into the midwest.
Above: Forecast for wildfire smoke at 6 p.m. ET November 18, 2016. Created at 1 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.
Most of the eastern one-third of the United States will be experiencing some degree of wildfire smoke on Friday. But by far the heaviest concentrations are being created by the wildfires in the South. The winds on Friday will cause the much of the smoke to pass through areas in western Tennessee, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina.
Above: In this satellite photo taken during the afternoon of November 16, smoke from wildfires is clearly visible in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Smoke from wildfires in the South continues to drift across Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is between 101 and 150 due to smoke (the brown color in the AirNow map below) persons with heart and lung disease, older adults, and children are at greater risk. If the AQI is 151 to 200 (red in the map below) according to AirNow everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Many of our readers in the comments sections are asking about the smoke conditions in various locations. Keep in mind that the distribution of smoke is entirely dependant on the location of the fires and the wind direction. A large fire may affect areas in almost any direction if the wind blows it that way. For instance, it can be clear in Gatlinburg, TN one day and the next day it can be smoky.
It can be difficult to predict the impacts of smoke more than a day or two into the future. For one thing, exact wind direction and speed are hard to forecast accurately. And fire activity is even trickier to predict. New fires can break out, older ones can run out of fuel, and the effectiveness of firefighters can vary.
As you can see in the image above, at Atlanta the most common wind directions during November of 2012 were from the northwest and east, but other directions are also represented.
For the latest articles at Wildfire Today about how smoke from the wildfires is affecting various locations in the South, check out the articles tagged “smoke”.
Above: Smoke from wildfires in the southern United States as photographed by a NASA satellite Tuesday afternoon, November 15, 2016; updated late Tuesday afternoon.
We checked several resources for predictions of where smoke from the wildfires in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia will be distributed on Tuesday. It looks like much of Georgia and South Carolina will be heavily affected, with concentrations in some areas of South Carolina reaching the “Very Unhealthy” level according to the animated map below.
Some areas in the midwest appear to be affected by smoke that blew in from fires in Canada.
Arkansas, Louisiana, and eastern Texas are also heavily contributing to the smoky skies.
Check AirNow.gov for current air quality information. Click on their map to zoom in for a closer look.
An air quality index of 201 to 300 is “Very Unhealthy”.