Indiana air quality warnings triggered by smoke from western wildfires

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Smoke from western wildfires could affect local air quality this week, prompting Indiana to join a growing list of states issuing air quality alerts.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) on has issued a statewide Air Quality Action Day (AQAD) for Wednesday and Thursday.

The agency is forecasting high levels of fine particles (PM2.5) in the air because of smoke from wildfires in the western United States and southern Canada in what IDEM called a “unique widespread event.”

Smoke from the wildfires, which include a two-week old blaze in Oregon covering more than 540 square miles, is affecting air quality nationwide including some cities on the East Coast.

According to the National Weather Service's HRRR-smoke model, smoke from recent and ongoing wildfires has reached the Greater Cincinnati area.

In all, 83 wildfires are burning across 13 states, mostly in the Western U.S. and covering nearly 1.3 million acres of land, according to a USA Today report Tuesday. The smoke has traveled more than 2,700 miles to reach New York City.

Dry conditions, drought and record-breaking heat waves have created the conditions to spark such large blazes. Scientists agree climate change worsens those conditions and can make wildfires larger and more intense.

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