Arizona wildfires causing our smoky skies

In this high definition photo from the National Weather Service’s MODIS satellite from 440 miles above the earth it’s easy to see where Arizona is on fire. You can also see a plume that is floating over the Texas panhandle. (The milky-white appearance on the map). The “Wallow Fire” is the second largest reported in Arizona’s history and is 0% contained. According to NBC affiliate KPNX-TV, 311,000 acres have been charred. More than 2,100 firefighters are using 141 engines, 46 water tankers, 8 bulldozers, and 20 helicopters to fight the fire.

According to the New Mexico Business Weekly, flights from Salt Lake City, Houston, Oakland, and Seattle were diverted away from Albuquerque International Airport because of dense smoke. The city of Albuquerque even canceled an outdoor concert due to an unhealthy level of smoke.

KVIA-TV is reporting that electric officials are warning that the fire is dangerously close to high-tension power lines. Should the lines be broken due to the fire, rolling blackouts will occur in the El Paso, Texas metropolitan area in the coming days. The lines in question carry 40% of the power into that city.

This is a big deal and it’s effects are being seen here in the Midwest too! This is another image from MODIS and we’ve highlighted the most recent plume of smoke to pour into our airspace. In fact, this plume may have been enough to limit our temperatures by a degree or two today (much like a light pair of sunglasses on the atmosphere). Even though there are health concerns in New Mexico, the smoke plume is dispersed somewhat once it gets into the Midwest. Still, this plume coupled with industrial pollutants makes for some unhealthy air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Click here to see what the air quality is for our area.

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Posted under health, news, pollution, wildfires

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 7, 2011

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