Hazy days of summer

Drivers in vehicles traveling along U.S. Route 219, below, and Jackson Avenue, in foreground, may have noticed the haze hanging over the distant hills, but may not have realized the murkiness is actually smoke from wildfires in Western states.

If you think the wildfires in the Western states and Canada haven’t affected Western Pennsylvania and New York state, look toward the hills and sky and think again.

The hazy, gloomy conditions seen in the area for the past couple of days are actually the result of the wildfires that have been raging in 13 Western states and Canada.

National Weather Service State College meteorologist Amanda Wagner said the haze from the smoke emitted from the fires made their way to the local region from hundreds of miles away a couple of days ago.

Wagner noted the smoke has actually been drifting toward the area for several days and recently settled on the region.

The meteorologist believes the smoke will hang over the area until the next cold front carrying rain to the region arrives today or soon afterward. That front will likely clear out the rain for a couple of days, but the haze may return if the fires persist.

“It is impacting the temperatures a little bit” by lowering them, she added. “It’s preventing the sun rays from getting all the way to the ground.”

Blazes that have been causing vast damage in the West is the huge wildfire in Oregon which reportedly is spreading miles each day. Smaller wildfires are also found in densely populated areas of California.

In a related matter, the poor quality of air in Western New York prompted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to issue an air quality alert on Tuesday.

In the report, the DEC stated that the pollutant of concern is fine particulate matter from the smoke. Furthermore, DEC meteorologists predicted that “levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value leading to a greater health concern.”

The advisory was in effect through midnight on Tuesday.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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