Colorful Skies on Tap in the Midwest and Northeast as Smoke from Wildfires Moves Eastward

Posted: July 20, 2021 1:20 pm

Cold Front Will Help to Disperse Smoke Particles

Even if you live in the Midwest or the Northeast, it does not mean that you will not see the impacts of the wildfires currently burning on the West Coast. According to the US Forest Service, there are almost 120 wildfires now raging across the western half of the nation. At least 60 of these fires are considered to be large and uncontained, posing a risk to those in their paths.

Smoke Out West Moving to the East

As the fires continue to rage on, the resulting smoke is now affecting the eastern half of the country. Even though the persistent rain in the Northeast will finally start to dissipate this week, the clear skies may be blocked by the hazy smoke that is moving in from the West.

What should have been a sunny Tuesday in the Northeast may appear hazy to some residents because of the smoke in the atmosphere. Although this seems like a long way for the smoke to travel, smoke particles are known to be light and tiny, making them easy to transport long distances with the right wind conditions.

Hazy Conditions Already on the Move, Creating Dangerous Air Conditions

Some areas of the Great Lakes experienced this haze on Monday. The smoke contributed to poor air quality in some areas, particularly in Southern Canada where air quality advisories were issued due to the haze.

The danger from wildfire smoke comes from more than just the actual smoke. This smoke also contains harmful particles that result from burning buildings and other materials that are not native to the atmosphere. Because of this, everyone in the path is at risk of being bothered by the smoke.

However, those with asthma or other underlying respiratory conditions are especially at risk of suffering the consequences that come with smoke in the atmosphere. The most serious physical effects of poor air quality include trouble breathing, a scratchy throat, fatigue, headaches, sinus irritation, and asthma attacks.

Stunning Sunsets in Store


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While the biggest risk of dangerous air quality in the coming days will be in the Midwest, the Northeast will likely see just hazy skies that may deliver stunning sunsets. The highest chance of a colorful sunset at the hands of smoke in the air will come Tuesday evening for much of the East Coast.

The farther that the smoke has to travel, the higher that it will be in the atmosphere. This makes it less dangerous as it moves farther to the east. Smoke that is closer to the ground presents a much greater health risk.

Repeat of Last Year

The record-breaking 2020 wildfire season in the West also sent smoke all the way out to the Midwest and East Coast. Last year’s fires in Washington, Oregon, and California produced smoke that resulted in hazy skies on the East Coast. While this is somewhat uncommon, it has happened on occasion, especially if the wildfire activity is trending upward.

How Long Will the Smoke Last?

Although the wildfire activity in the West is certainly not winding down anytime soon, the conditions will not be ripe for the smoke to keep traveling to the east. A cold front is forecast to drop down from Canada into the Northeast. This blast of cooler air will serve to clear out some of the lingering smoke on Wednesday.

As far as the activity on the West Coast, the US is currently at a national preparedness level of five. Representing the top of the scale, this rating means that the US is under the highest level of fire activity with crew and resources at risk of being depleted

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