If you’ve stepped outside recently and think the sky looks a little hazier than usual, you aren’t crazy.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, smoke produced from several wildfires burning out West has piggy-backed on some upper-level winds and made its way to the Gulf Coast, creating hazy atmospheric conditions and triggering air quality alerts in places such as Houston and New Orleans.
In Northwest Florida, no air quality alerts have been issued so far, according to Cody Lindsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama. But there are low to moderate concentrations of smoke in the air over the Panhandle that could aggravate people with sensitive allergies.
“It’s kind of an interesting situation,” Lindsey said. “To see the haze in the atmosphere and realize it’s made its way all the way down here to the Gulf Coast, it’s just kind of interesting to know that when folks see the haze, it’s from those wildfires out West.”
Firefighters are battling more than a dozen wildfires from California to Canada. The Mendocino Complex fire just became the largest fire in California’s history and still is only 74 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
As thousands of firefighters work to contain the blazes, heavy smoke is blanketing several regions in the West and Northwest. Winds also have carried much of the smoke to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Lower Alabama and Northwest Florida, although in much lower concentrations than seen in other parts of the country.
“The smoke from those wildfires along the West Coast states and up in Canada has been caught up in the upper-level flow, and those upper-level flows generally come down to the Southeast and East,” Lindsey said.
The hazy conditions are expected to linger into the weekend but should dissipate by next week, according to NOAA.