Wildfire smoke congests skies across U.S. West, prompting air quality warnings
Driving the news: Many of the wildfires started amid an unprecedented heatwave driven by human-caused climate change. The fires have ripped across the already drought-stricken West, burning more than one million acres.
State of play: There are currently 68 wildfires burning across 12 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday.
- Dozens of fires are also burning across Canada.
- Since June 1, at least 67 weather stations have recorded temperatures that either tied or broke all-time heat records, per the NWS.
The big picture: On Wednesday the NWS issued air quality warnings due to wildfire smoke to parts of Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon.
- "Thick density smoke" also covers California, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico and Texas, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- In states such as Minnesota and North Dakota, the poor air quality is being driven by crossover smoke from the Canadian fires, AP reports.
- "We expect more acres to burn. We expect more smoke," Andrew Wineke, communications manager at the Washington State Department of Ecology, told local news.
- Satellite imagery on Wednesday evening showed smoke from the North American fires moving over southern Greenland and the North Atlantic.
- Sprawling wildfires scorch Western U.S. amid severe heat wave
- Heat wave roasts the West as wildfires explode in size
- Welcome to our hellscape summer
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information.