Wildfire smoke affects northwestern and central United States

In Rapid City, South Dakota the visibility Sunday afternoon was 2.5 miles, and was even less in Hot Springs.

smoke wildfires map

Above: The map shows the distribution of smoke from wildfires. The smoke from wildfires in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California is being distributed widely across the country.

(Originally published at 9:35 p.m. MDT September 3, 2017.)

After having been on the road for a week and a half I flew in to Rapid City late Sunday afternoon. As we began to descend to the airport the pilot came on the PA system to give their typical information about the last leg of the flight and the weather conditions in the destination city. He said smoke was reducing the visibility to 2.5 miles at Rapid and guessed that it was due to fires in the Black Hills.

But it was actually coming from much farther away —  most of it probably from Montana and Idaho, but Oregon, Washington, and California are also producing large quantities of the stuff.

satellite photo smoke fires
Satellite photo showing smoke created by wildfires September 3, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite at 3:04 p.m. MDT September 3, 2017.

The AirNow map below shows large sections of several states with “unhealthy” air quality: South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and California. Oregon and California have the distinction of “very unhealthy” air in some areas.


smoke wildfires map
AirNow map showing air quality at 8:34 p.m. MDT September 3, 2017.

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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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