CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Air quality across the state has been impacted on Friday due to wildfire smoke.
The smoke originates from fires that continue to burn out of control in Alberta.
The Albertan Government has declared a Provincial Emergency due to the situation. As of Friday Afternoon, the government reported 94 active wildfire with a year total so far of 494.
Those blazes in recent weeks have created a massive amount of smoke that is causing air quality issues across the United States, according to the EPA.
The wildfire smoke has been pulled into the United States thanks to prevailing winds aloft and a strong low pressure system with a cold front sweeping across the plains.
Guidance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a large plume of smoke swirling over the Great Lakes Region, with smoke extending into the Southern Plains. Another large plume of smoke lingers over Western Canada, including over Alberta and over Saskatchewan.
It is possible in the days and weeks to come as fires continue to burn that more smoke will billow down towards the United States.
|DAILY AQI COLOR||LEVEL OF CONCERN||VALUES OF INDEX||DESCRIPTION OF AIR QUALITY|
|Good||0 to 50||Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.|
|Yellow||Moderate||51 to 100||Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.|
|Orange||Unhealthy for sensitive groups||101 to 150||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.|
|Red||Unhealthy||151 to 200||Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.|
|Purple||Very Unhealthy||201 to 300||Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.|
|Maroon||Hazardous||301 and up||Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.|
On Friday afternoon, air quality across Illinois and the Midwest were reported lower due to smoke mixing down to the surface.
The National Weather Service reports that smoke from the fires are mixing down behind a band of showers moving across the state. They say visibility observations have decreased from 4 to 6 miles across Eastern Iowa and Southwestern Wisconsin, with visibility also being reported lower in Illinois as of Friday afternoon.
The National Weather Service expects smoke to reach Bloomington and Springfield by 2 p.m. with Champaign and Decatur seeing extra hazy conditions due to the smoke mid-afternoon. By 6-7 p.m., smoke should cross I-70.
They advise that residents could smell smoke in the air and that those with respiratory issues should avoid extended periods outside.
The latest Air Quality Index observations were mainly in the yellow/moderate category Friday afternoon across much of the state, but at times air quality has been as low as orange and even red. Red AQI is considered unhealthy air, and some members of the general public may experience heath effects due to the poor air quality.
Areas reporting orange and red air quality levels were mainly confined to Northern Illinois, where the smoke has been reported to be thicker. You can see live updates to the AQI on the EPA’s AirNow.gov website.