Smoke from Thomas Fire affects air quality in California

Above: Wildfire smoke forecast for 6 p.m. PST December 10, 2017.

(Originally published at 3:30 p.m. PST December 10, 2017)

The Thomas Fire is having a significant effect on the air quality in California. Some areas downwind of the fire to the northwest had “unhealthy” conditions at 2 p.m. Sunday, including Santa Barbara and Goleta. Forecasts show that smoke and ash will continue to affect the southern part of Santa Barbara County for the next several days. The Santa Ynez Valley and the northern parts of the County will see increasing impacts.

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Satellite photo showing smoke from the Thomas Fire December 10, 2017.
Thomas Fire smoke air quality
Air quality at 2 p.m. PST December 10.
Thomas Fire smoke air quality
Air Quality in Santa Barbara County at 2 p.m. PST December 12, 2017.

15,000 firefighters are battling 83 wildfires in the United States

Above: Map showing heat detected on wildfires in the northwest one-quarter of the U.S. by a satellite, August 10-11, 2017. NASA.

(Originally published at 12:34 p.m. MDT August 11, 2017)

Over 15,000 firefighters are assigned to 83 active wildfires in the United States which have burned a total of about 942,000 acres. In addition to fire overhead and incident command post personnel, they are staffing 369 hand crews, 678 fire engines, and 141 helicopters. So far this year over 6 million acres have burned in the country.

As you can see below, the air quality compromised by smoke is not getting any better. Again, four cities in Idaho and Washington are four of the top five locations in the country with forecasts for the worst air today.

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Wildfire smoke, 5:16 a.m. MDT August 11, 2017.

Wildfire smoke and air quality, August 10, 2017

Above: map showing the distribution of wildfire smoke at 5:34 p.m. MDT August 10, 2017. NOAA.

(Originally published at 6:09 p.m. MDT August 10, 2017)

Judging from these maps, the air quality in southern British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest looks particularly rotten today. (“Rotten” is not a term I’ve seen NOAA use to describe air quality, but it seems appropriate here.)

Locations in Washington and Idaho had the distinction of taking four of the top five positions on the forecast for the “highest 5”, AKA worst air, in the United States today.

Air quality map United States southern Canada
Air quality in the United States and southern Canada August 10, 2017.
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Satellite photo showing smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest during the afternoon of August 10, 2017. The red dots represent heat from wildfires.

Wildfire smoke produces haze over much of British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest

Above: Satellite photo of smoke from wildfires in the U.S. Northwest and Southern British Columbia, August 5, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite.

(Updated at 6:50 p.m. MDT August 5, 2017 to add the more current satellite photo above.)

Smoke from wildfires in Southern British Columbia continues to pour across the border into Washington and other states in the U.S. Northwest. The air quality in Washington is the worst that residents have seen in recent years, reaching unhealthy levels in some areas according to agencies that monitor particulates and other pollutants.

Currently there are 110 active wildfires in British Columbia — four of them are larger than 50,000 hectares (123,000 acres):

  • Hanceville Riske Creek, 148,000 hectares (365,000 acres) approximately 60 km southwest of Williams Lake.
  • Elephant Hill, 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres), near Ashcroft.
  • Tautri Lake, 73,000 hectares (180,000 acres), 80 km northwest of Williams Lake.
  • Baezaeko River-Quesnel West, 55,000 hectares (135,000 acres).

Below is a gallery of maps and graphics showing the location of the fires, air quality, and smoke. Click on an image to see a larger version and start a slide show. Captions are in the top-left corner.

Wildfire smoke produces “unhealthy” conditions in some areas of the US Northwest and British Columbia

Above: The distribution of wildfire smoke, current as of 2:09 p.m. MDT August 3, 2017.

(Originally published at 2:50 p.m. MDT August 3, 2017)

Smoke from wildfires in the United States Northwest and southern British Columbia is accumulating in those areas causing, in some areas, significant degradations in air quality. In British Columbia many massive fires combined with light winds has resulted in the smoke not being transported out of the area.

air quality smoke united states
Air quality August 3, 2017 for western Canada and parts of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Some areas in BC, western Montana, and the western portions of Washington and Oregon have “unhealthy” air quality today, according to Air Now.

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