Extreme heat and dry conditions are fueling raging wildfires in the western US, charring more than a million acres, requiring evacuations and creating smoky conditions visible from space.
The smoke mixed down to the surface in New York City, creating an eerie scene Wednesday morning.
The city had a 24-hour average Air Quality Index of 154 on Tuesday, the worst it’s been since June 2006, when the AQI was 157.
The good news is a cold front is ushering the smoke out of the area. And some rain was helping out Wednesday afternoon.
And in Indiana, the Department of Environmental Management asked residents to reduce their activity time outdoors on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasts predicted high levels of fine particles in the air due to the wildfire smoke, officials said in a news release.
In the West, the fires have caused power outages, destroyed structures and prompted the deployment of the Oregon National Guard.
As extreme drought still grips most of the West and the fires have become so intense they’ve created their own weather systems, the threat of more fires remains.
In Oregon – where seven active large fires have burned nearly 467,000 acres – officials said the current fire season is unlike any they’ve seen before.
“I would categorize this fire season thus far as historic in terms of the amount of resources we’ve deployed, how many times we’ve deployed – within a three-week period we’ve mobilized to six conflagrations – and this is the earliest and most significant mobilization to date,” State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said Tuesday.