wildfires currently raging in the American West have produced so much smoke that it can be observed in the majority of U.S. states, the Weather Channel reported.
Varying concentrations of smoke have spread as far east as Lake Superior and Hudson Bay, and as far south as Baja, California, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday.
Aerosol index simulations from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from last Friday through Monday even showed smoke particles along the Southeastern coast and parts of upstate New York and northern New England, the Weather Channel noted.
?Today's simulated wildfire smoke forecast across the West. This illustrates the total smoke in the atmosphere.#idwx #orwx #wawx #cawx #utwx #nvwx pic.twitter.com/iLAlDNehgM
— NWS Boise (@NWSBoise) August 7, 2018
The thickest smoke can be observed across much of California, Oregon, eastern Washington, northern Nevada, northern Utah, southern Wyoming, northern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska, according to NOAA.
There are 18 active fires in California alone, including the Mendocino Complex Fire, which was recently declared the largest in state history, and eclipsed last year’s Thomas fire which burned 283,800 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst took photos of California’s thick plumes from the International Space Station.
“California burning. These fires are frightening to watch, even from space. Here’s a shout-out from space to all firefighters on this planet, my former colleagues. Stay safe my friends!” Gerst tweeted Aug. 3.
California burning. These fires are frightening to watch, even from space. Here's a shout-out from space to all firefighters on this planet, my former colleagues. Stay safe my friends! pic.twitter.com/y7PNmR006b
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 3, 2018
Officials have issued air quality advisories to dozens of communities surrounding the wildfires.
The National Weather Service warns that exposure to particle pollution can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, cause asthma attacks and acute bronchitis and increase risk of respiratory infections.
The West’s string of destructive wildfires has been attributed to climate change, as drought and heat waves combine to increase the risk that dry vegetation will ignite.
“It is our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires,” deputy chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Scott McLean told The Huffington Post Monday.