Wildfire smoke travels farther south into the United States

Wildfire smoke
Wildfire smoke at 1:20 a.m. MDT August 14, 2017. NOAA.

While sleeping with the windows open I woke up at 2 a.m. Monday morning with the strong smell of forest fire smoke in the house. I checked NOAA’s smoke map on my phone and sure enough there it was, in several shades of brown. Oddly, in spite of the strong smell, it is barely registering at the nearest air quality monitoring site.

Canadian smoke does not often drift this far south into the Black Hills of South Dakota in high enough concentrations to have a strong odor.

Wildfires air quality
Wildfires and air quality, at 2 a.m. MDT August 14, 2017

air quality legendBut it is much, much worse in some areas. I have friends that basically evacuated from Missoula at least temporarily because of the smoke, where Saturday the air was “very unhealthy”. And this morning in Calgary, Alberta the PM2.5 is 234, also “very unhealthy”.

And, thanks to the South Fork Fire that started Sunday 1.5 miles east of the community of Wawona in Yosemite National Park and the Empire Fire that has been burning in that area since August 1, it is “unhealthy” to breathe in Yosemite Valley where the PM2.5 is 154. The Empire Fire is not being suppressed so the smoky conditions could persist for an extended period of time. The South Fork Fire is a suppression fire.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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