Smoke From Wildfires Impacts The High Country (2016-11-15 15:03:28)

On Monday the North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center added the High Country to the Code Red status, due to smoke from wildfires in western North Carolina. Poor air quality will continue to impact a large portion of the state today.

Areas of smoke lingered over the Mountains and foothills overnight and will move east and southeast today–along with smoke from other fires in surrounding states–in the wake of a departing area of low pressure. Smoke-related impacts will vary across the state, and many people will likely smell smoke. However, the highest smoke concentrations will be in the Mountains.

A Code Purple forecast for fine particulates will remain in place for Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties.

Code Red conditions are expected over the Asheville and Hickory forecast regions, as well as in Avery, Mitchell, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford and Cleveland counties.

Code Orange conditions are expected over Ashe, Watauga, Allegany and Wilkes counties and east into the Charlotte region as this smoke builds to the east.

Code Yellow particle pollution conditions prevail across the remaining forecast regions.

If you can see heavy haze and smell smoke, then air quality is not good and you should limit your outdoor activities. This is particularly important for children, older adults, people with heart and respiratory problems, and those who work and exercise outside for extended times.

Nearly 40,000 acres have been burned in the state by 19 significant fires since Oct. 23. Governor Pat McCrory announced that the estimated cost of the fires is more than $10 million.

One of the closest fires to the High Country is the Chestnut Knob Fire at South Mountains State Park  in Burke County, which was at about 3,200 acres on Monday, and fire crews continue to work to maintain containment lines within the park and just outside the park’s northern boundary. Officially, the fire is considered 20 percent contained.

Images:  top - Chestnut Knob Fire,
                bottom - North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center