Residents of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are waking up to hazy skies today after smoke from western wildfires has reached the all the way to the Great Lakes. Blazes in California, Oregon, and Washington state have created hazardous air conditions with several cities now having among the worst air now in the world. That smoke is now traveling thousands of miles.
A satellite image that was published over the weekend shows smoke from the West Coast stretching across the southwest and Midwest to the upper Great Lakes, located thousands of miles away.
“The area in the orange contour is smoke in the mid-upper levels of the atmosphere that has reached as far east as Michigan! The red contour is the dense smoke near the West Coast,” the Weather Prediction Center wrote on Twitter.
Here is a visible satellite image valid at 2pm PDT showing the vast extent of the wildfire smoke. The area in the orange contour is smoke in the mid-upper levels of the atmosphere that has reached as far east as Michigan! The red contour is the dense smoke near the West Coast. pic.twitter.com/J0OEFVA4oD
— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) September 13, 2020
International air quality monitoring website IQAir.com reported that air quality in Portland, Oregon, was the worst in the world on Sunday. It said that Vancouver in Canada, Seattle, and San Francisco are in the top 10—beating out massive cities like New Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beijing, China; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Oregon cities like Medford, Corvallis, Albany, Eugene, Salem, and Bend all had worse air quality than Portland, according to OregonLive.
“Air pollutants can cause breathing difficulties for children, the elderly, as well as persons with respiratory problems. Those individuals who are sensitive to increased particulate matter or smoke are encouraged to avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity during this alert. It is also recommended that all other individuals limit prolonged or strenuous activity outdoors,” said the weather agency.
The fires, coming after a hot summer, could have been prevented say forest management experts. Democrat-led states, including California, Oregon and Washington State, have ended or severely reduced the ability of loggers to take out old and dead trees. When the trees and underbrush are allowed to remain, they create an incredible amount of dry fuel that is easily ignited.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, on Sunday refused to blame the state’s forest management policies of the last 20 years when asked by reporters and instead blamed President Donald Trump for global warming.