HUNTINGTON — Because of wildfires in the U.S. and Canada, Huntington has experienced hazy weather this week.
Huntington was one of many cities in the eastern part of the U.S. to experience the haze.
The Associated Press reported the weather event in states such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
According to the National Weather Service’s website, haze was present again in the local area as of Wednesday afternoon due to wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada, but the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model indicates the highest concentrations of haze would drift south by Wednesday evening.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen it like this,” said Jeff Hovis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
He said the area has been experiencing haze for a couple days. He said at first the haze did not affect visibility so much, but it turned the sky milky blue. On Tuesday, the smoke created a vivid sunset in Huntington, he said.
Hovis said the NWS expects the haze to improve Thursday as a cold front pushes the haze to the south toward Virginia and North Carolina. He said the Charleston office has received a few calls from people asking why there isn’t a smoke smell with the haze, but he said that was because the smoke has been diluted as it traveled through the atmosphere from the wildfires.
Climate change is part of the reason Huntington has experienced the haze, but it’s not the sole reason, Hovis said. Wildfires and high pressure in the atmosphere in the West resulted in the haze.
The AP reported extremely dry conditions and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight. In the past 30 years, climate change has made the West much warmer and drier and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
The West Virginia Division of Air Quality’s website listed Huntington’s air quality on Wednesday at good levels, meaning air pollution posed little to no risk. Charleston’s levels were moderate, which means air quality is acceptable, but there may be a moderate health concern for a small group of people who are sensitive to air pollution.
Strong winds blew the smoke eastward from states such as California, Oregon and Montana, according to the AP. The largest wildfire in the U.S., Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, grew to 616 square miles, which is half the size of Rhode Island, on Wednesday.