Wildfires cause local smoke smell, haze, and bad air

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — You may have noticed that there was a smell overnight in our area like someone was having a fire nearby.  I am already getting many questions about it, and I noticed it myself early this morning.

You can thank the wildfires to the far west for this smell, combined with our cold front that brought down additional air from the northwest, and rainfall.  It combined for a nice wet, burning wood smell this morning.

We had tall storm clouds that reached up into the smoked filled atmosphere last night to give our raindrops essential a dip in smoke before falling to the ground.  It is also responsible for these neat looking views of the sun we have this morning and that we had last night before sunset.

NOAA has daily trackers for the wildfires in the US and the smoke the produce

They can track these fires via satellite and produce maps daily for this.  Below is the map analysis for yesterday across the US.  Notice that the upper level pattern across our area had transferred a good deal of smoke across the country, and over us in Ohio.

We also had a cold front come through early this morning bringing down cooler air from the north-northwest.  The upper level flow across the US, would also provide a highway for the wildfires out west & northwest to pour smoke into our backyards.

Below is the map from NOAA of active fires in the US.  Notice the bulk in Montana and Idaho.  Winds around a mid/upper trough would transport that smoke directly from the source and into our area.  This would contribute to a kind of yellowish haze on a clear sunny day.  But we have had clouds and storms so it has been more difficult to see.

Below is the current Air Quality Index from the EPA:

This current rating is 149, which is under the category of “unsafe for sensitive groups” because of particulate matter in the air.  The primary cause of this would be smoke from wildfires.

If you would like to sign up for alerts on air quality from MORPC locally, you can do so here: http://centralohio.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm

Also, the EPA’s AIRNow website has a full list of details on how to reduce and limit your exposure on days like today to the air.

The best thing you can do is stay inside the house with the air on to help filter outside air.  If driving keep the air recirculating in your vehicle vs windows open, or bringing in fresh air from outside.

For a full list: https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.pmhilevels

If you have any questions about fires, smoke, or any other type of weather interaction, email me, dmazza@wcmh.com

-Dave

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