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Canadian wildfires funneling smoke perfectly into Triad, causing unhealthy air

Smoke from Canadian wildfires reaches Triad region, triggering air quality alert.

The Triad region, encompassing Forsyth, Guilford, Alamance, Davidson, Davie, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, and Surry counties, was the only area within hundreds of miles to be placed under an air quality alert on Monday. This alert was issued by the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection, in partnership with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The alert, known as a Code Orange advisory, was prompted by the presence of fine particles in the air, carried by smoke from Canadian wildfires. These particles have the potential to enter the lungs and bloodstream, posing health risks, especially for vulnerable groups such as children, older adults, and individuals with heart disease or respiratory conditions like asthma.

To protect themselves, the Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection advised vulnerable individuals to limit their time spent outdoors engaging in strenuous activities and to take frequent breaks when active. The smoke and fine particles affecting the Triad region are a result of a weather pattern that is directing the smoke from Canadian wildfires towards the area. An upper-level low pressure system over Michigan and Pennsylvania, combined with high pressure to the west, is causing the smoke to be funneled down to the Triad region. This weather pattern is unique to the Triad, as other regions in the state are not experiencing the same air quality issues due to the presence of mountains that block the smoke flow.

As of noon on Monday, the Triad region was the only area in the state to have an Orange air quality alert. The closest other Orange alerts were in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and central Tennessee. However, the smoke and air quality issues were not limited to the Triad region or North Carolina. More than a dozen states, from Montana to Vermont, were under air-quality alerts on Monday, affecting approximately 70 million people. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported over 880 active wildfires, with at least 580 classified as "out of control." These wildfires are the primary source of the smoke and fine particles impacting air quality in various regions.

Fortunately, the particulate levels are expected to decrease to moderate levels by Tuesday. It is important for individuals in the affected areas to stay updated on air quality conditions and follow the guidance provided by local authorities. The Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection will continue to monitor the air quality in the Triad region and provide updates as necessary.

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