Wildfires, poor air quality to plague western US as extreme heat persists
By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 08, 2017, 3:02:32 AM EDT
Wildfires in the western United States are increasing in number and coverage even as the typical season for wildfires comes to an end.
September usually marks the beginning of the end for wildfire season, when Pacific storms start rolling onshore bringing cooler, wetter weather to the Northwest.
However, dry heat is still well established in areas west of the Rockies.
“Extreme heat with highs in the 90s will settle over Montana, Idaho and Wyoming into this weekend,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
While some thunderstorms formed over northern California and southern Oregon on Thursday, the rainfall was insufficient to quench wildfires.
As of Thursday night, the USDA Forest Service reports that there are 140 active wildfires in the U.S., spreading over nearly 2 million acres of land.
Both the fires themselves and the resulting smoke are causing problems for residents and visitors in the northwestern U.S.
The National Weather Service office in Seattle has reported that the smoke is so dense, ash is visibly accumulating on surfaces at times.
Very unhealthy air quality is forecast for wide swaths of the Pacific Northwest through the weekend, mainly in eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho and western Montana where smoke is the most dense.
While everyone should avoid exerting themselves outdoors in these conditions, anyone with respiratory or cardiac health issues should take extra precautions when outdoors or in other areas with unfiltered air.
Poor air quality will combine with the persistent heat to make outdoor exercise particularly dangerous.
“If you do plan to spend time outdoors during the afternoon in these conditions, it’s important to take breaks and drink plenty of water,” said Doll.
Major Hurricane Irma likely to strike Florida this weekend; Georgia to Carolinas on alert for impacts
Autumn-like air to sweep across central US to interior Northeast this week
2017 Canada fall forecast: Mild autumn to unfold in eastern, Atlantic Canada; Drought to continue wildfire risk in Prairies
In addition to the unhealthy air quality, fires are directly inhibiting travel and tourism in the Pacific Northwest.
The Eagle Creek Fire in the popular Columbia River Gorge area in Oregon is one such incident, though many fires have resulted in widespread road and hiking trail closures.
Localized evacuations have taken place as fires threaten residences, in addition to the entire state of Washington being under a state of emergency as of Sept. 2.
While the forecast for the region includes periods of spotty storms, a widespread, soaking rainfall is not expected anytime soon.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - January 19, 2019, 11:42:40 AM EST
As a storm with snow and ice strengthens, gusty winds and plummeting temperatures will lead to blizzard conditions in many areas of the Midwest this weekend.
Weather News - January 19, 2019, 9:29:37 AM EST
While a winter storm churns to their north, residents of the lower Mississippi Valley are facing a severe weather danger on Saturday.
Weather News - January 19, 2019, 11:49:02 AM EST
A winter storm is gaining strength over the Midwest and will clobber the Northeast into Sunday with significant, widespread impacts.
Weather News - January 18, 2019, 6:54:47 PM EST
The storm is expected to deliver snow accumulations that could be the largest snowfall of the season in some places.
Weather News - January 18, 2019, 2:18:00 PM EST
As earthquakes shake regions and cause massive, unpredictable destruction, an early warning system that provides a precious few seconds of alert can be a matter of life and death.
State of emergency declared in Pennsylvania, New Jersey as Midwest, Northeast rush to finalize snowstorm preparations
Weather News - January 18, 2019, 9:05:55 PM EST
A major snowstorm is moving through the Midwest into the Northeast through this weekend, dumping mass amounts of snow and creating treacherous travel. Local officials warn communities to prepare ahead of the dangerous winter storm.
Blizzard to dish out up to 40 inches of snow in northeastern US as dangerous ice storm takes aim farther south
Weather News - January 19, 2019, 11:45:47 AM EST
A storm with feet of snow, blizzard conditions, a significant build-up of ice, tree-breaking winds and plunging temperatures will close roads, cause flight cancellations and disrupt daily activities over a large part of the northeastern United States this weekend.
Outdoor ice skating rinks aren’t just limited to colder climates that are all too familiar with blizzards and below-freezing conditions.