The Canadian wildfire smoke that made its presence felt across the area weeks ago has returned, and this time it is much more dense than before. Although technically the skies are free of clouds, there is a translucent, overcast look outside from this smoke; but the visuals are not the only thing that the wildfire smoke is affecting. The air quality has taken a hit, and being outdoors for extended periods of time is not recommended.
Visibilities as of 1:00 p.m. are less than 5 miles in many spots, and up north where the smoke is the thickest, visibilities are as low as 2 miles. Although not as burdensome to driving as fog is, this smoke will require those on the road to pay a little extra attention, as objects ordinarily in plain sight down the road may not come into view right away.
The Air Quality has officially been deemed “Unhealthy” across much of the area, meaning that the air outside is not particularly suitable for anybody to be out in, especially those will respiratory illnesses. This is because during the afternoon hours, the sun heats up the ground, and this air near the ground rises and begins to vertically “mix” with the properties of the air above. Essentially, the elements near the ground move up and the elements aloft (including the wildfire smoke) move on down. As a result, smoke and other pollutants that are unhealthy to breathe in make it down to the surface and can cause us harm in we are out in it for too long.
An Air Quality Alert is in place across the entire WCIA-3 viewing area until Wednesday Evening. The worst of the smoke will be this afternoon, and it should begin to slowly clear out throughout the day on Wednesday. However, the air quality will still be less than ideal over the next 24-36 hours, so it is advised to monitor your outdoor activity and check back on the latest forecast to see where things stand. You can also visit https://www.airnow.gov/ to check on the latest air quality wherever you live.
As rain chances increase over the next couple of days, a southern wind will take over, which should push the smoke away from the area and clear things up.