Western wildfires smoke spreads across US, cast smoky haze over Northeast

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NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Thousands of people across the U.S. and Canada woke up Tuesday to a yellowish tinge to the sky, hazy conditions, and a bright orange sun — the cause of these conditions is intense wildfires burning thousands of miles away in western North America.

Blazes ignited in Oregon and California are burning so intensely they’ve created a thick layer of smoke over the region. Sings of smoke are also on display across the eastern U.S.

Air quality alerts were places in places across the Northeast due to the smoke. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an Air Quality Alert for New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Experimental NOAA imaging shows vertically integrated smoke from West Coast wildfires hovering over the Northeast on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Credit: NOAA)

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, record heat and drought across the western United States have increased the risk for wildfires this summer.

In Oregon, firefighters continued to battle a massive 606-square-mile wildfire dubbed the Bootleg Fire. It’s ravaged south Oregon and is the fourth-largest fire in the state’s modern history.

The Bootleg Fire was one of many fires burning in a dozen states, most of them in the West. Sixteen large uncontained fires burned in Oregon and Washington state alone on Monday.

Extremely dry conditions and heatwaves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

In Northern California, authorities expanded evacuations on the Tamarack Fire in Alpine County in the Sierra Nevada to include the mountain town of Mesa Vista late Monday. That fire, which exploded over the weekend and forced the cancellation of an extreme bike ride, was 61 square miles with no containment.

In New York, the hazy conditions from the drifting wildfire smoke are expected to last throughout the day Tuesday and may linger further into the week.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.

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