West coast wildfire smoke spreads over 2,000 miles to Hawaii and Ohio

‘Smoke from California wildfires is near the islands,’ the National Weather Service in Honolulu tweeted earlier this week

Louise Boyle
New York
Friday 11 September 2020 23:52 BST
US wildfire size triples

The dozens of wildfires raging in the American West are sending smoke billowing across the county and over the Pacific, with effects being felt as far away as Hawaii and Ohio.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Honolulu, more than 2,500 miles from the California coast, tweeted on Wednesday: “If you thought you saw or smelled smoke recently, experimental forecast data suggests that some smoke from California wildfires is near the islands.”

Smoke from the wildfires was also spotted above the Midwest. Forecasters with the NWS  in Cleveland, Ohio shared an image from NASA’s GOES-16 satellite that showed clouds coming off Lake Erie at 1,000 feet and wildfire smoke at a much higher altitude of 30,000 feet.

A Northern California wildfire became the state’s deadliest of the year on Thursday when authorities announced seven more deaths. 

The death toll now stands at 10 people and there are fears it could climb as searchers look for 16 missing people.

More than 2,000 homes and other buildings had burned in the lightning-sparked collection of fires now known as the North Complex burning about 125 miles (200 km) northeast of San Francisco.

Forecasters said there was some good news on the weather front: winds were expected to remain lighter this week in the fire area, while dense smoke actually knocked down the temperature slightly and was expected to kept the humidity somewhat higher.

The fire is among five this year that have set records for the most land ever burned, including a blaze that broke the mark on Thursday as the largest ever.

More than 4,800 square miles (12,500 sq km) have burned so far this year — more land than Rhode Island, Delaware and Washington, DC, combined — and autumn is typically the worst season for fires. Nineteen people have been killed in fires and nearly 4,000 structures have burned across the state.

More than 1,400 square miles (3,625 sq km) have burned this week in Oregon, where hot, windy conditions continued. Authorities said more than half a million people — one in every 10 people in the state — had been forced to evacuate.

Wildfires have scorched nearly 937 square miles (2,426 sq km) in Washington.

Wires contributed to this report

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