Smoke from intense Canadian wildfires has led to dramatic sunsets and sunrises in Southeastern North Carolina — along with air quality alerts.
Columbus County and all of Southeastern North Carolina is under a Code Yellow alert, meaning moderate health concerns for people with respiratory problems. The National Weather Service (NWS) said much of the state is under a Code Orange alert. An Orange designation means that the elderly, children, people with heart or lung issues, and active people should limit outside activity when possible.
The same atmospheric conditions that have provided cooler than normal June temperatures in recent days have also funneled the smoke into the United States, according to the NWS. Some major northern cities are under Code Red alerts, due to a combination of the smoke and pollution.
“It’s being caused by northerly wind flow around a huge storm over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of New Brunswick, Canada,” said WTXY Meteorologist Christopher Cawley.
While air quality warnings are unusual for most of North Carolina, they aren’t uncommon. During the 2011 drought, multiple wildfires across the state caused smoky conditions in all 100 counties, as well as South Carolina. When a 30,000 acre wildfire was burning in Pender County, Columbus County was briefly under a Code Red alert, and remained under an Orange designation for approximately two weeks.
The smoky effects will begin to lessen Thursday, according to the NWS, but will persist at least through the weekend.