Satellite images and forecasts from the National Weather Service show that smoke from Northern California’s massive, raging wildfires is carrying as far east as New York City.
The smoke layer reaching the East Coast is about a mile high, the NWS says. At that height, it does not pose significant health risks to people in the area, according to a recent Georgia Tech study cited by NASA.
In fact, at that altitude, New Yorkers can likely neither see nor smell the smoke. But it’s either there or will be soon, forecast models show.
The Carr and Mendocino Complex fires that have raged in Northern California — the former having killed at least eight people, and the latter having surpassed 300,000 acres and becoming the largest in state history — are both still burning, neither fully contained. Other major fires, such as the Ferguson Fire burning near Yosemite, have also wreaked havoc.
Air quality has been an issue in Sacramento for several days, with ”Spare the Air” warnings setting new records. The smoky conditions are expected to improve dramatically this week, but the smoke has to go somewhere. As CNN explains, smoke from wildfires is carried vertically by winds. Once there, the jet stream carries it eastward, dipping slightly to the south through parts of the Midwest before heading back up toward New England.
There have been reports of heavy smoke and hazy conditions in places as far east as Minnesota.
Smoke reaching 3,000 miles to the other side of the country may sound crazy, but it’s not unheard of in recent times. Last fall, wildfire smoke from the Northwest U.S. carried across the country; NASA reported that the jet stream also helped drag that smoke. This was in September, the month before the deadly and devastating wine country fires sparked.