ATLANTA — Wildfires burning in the west have already scorched more than 1.3 million acres across the west -- there are almost 80 what are known as “complex fires” burning. These are a bunch of smaller fires that essentially converge into one.
The wildfire smoke has been drifting across the country the last several days, with smoky sky from Minneapolis to Chicago to New York City to Nashville.
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The weather pattern is shifting to a drier one for us the next few days, which means the wind will be coming from the northwest. That means the smoke that’s been bottled up to our north will start drifting in our direction.
“One of the things about this event that makes it so remarkable is that the smoke is affecting such a large swath of the U.S,” said Jesse Berman, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and an expert on air quality. “You’re not just seeing localized and perhaps upstate New York being affected, but rather you’re seeing numerous states all along the East Coast that are being impacted.”
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Expect the smoke to get particularly thick starting late today through the weekend in that northwest flow. You’ll likely see a very hazy sky and possibly even smell some smoke. If you have breathing issues like asthma and allergies, you’ll want to limit your time outdoors as the air quality gets poorer.
According to the Cedars-Sinai Hospital, there are tips you can take to protect yourself.
- Keep track of air quality ratings in your area to assess risk.
- Minimize exposure by staying indoors as much as possible.
- Protect your indoor air quality by keeping windows and doors closed.
- Don’t burn candles, vacuum, or use aerosol sprays—they’re all sources of indoor pollution.
- If your home has air conditioning or a high-efficiency particulate air filter, use it.
- Avoid unnecessary exercise or exertion, both indoors and out.
- If you do go out, reduce indoor pollution by showering and changing clothes when you return.
- If you use a rescue inhaler, keep one on hand.
- Pay close attention to symptoms and seek medical help at the first sign of trouble.
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