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Wildfire smoke, New York City
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Smoke from Washington wildfires dodges Puget Sound, ends up in New York instead

The Statue of Liberty sits behind a cloud of haze on July 20, 2021 in New York City.(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While much of the Puget Sound region has been largely untouched by the state’s recent wildfires, the resulting smoke has instead made its way thousands of miles east.

Colville, Okanogan County residents in need of crews for wildfires

That’s seen Washington’s wildfire smoke end up as far east as New York City, in addition to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and more.

On Wednesday morning, New York City’s air quality index rating rose up over 150 as a result of the incoming West Coast smoke, putting it squarely in the “unhealthy” range. As of early Wednesday afternoon, the city’s air quality rating had dipped to almost 90, although still classified in the “moderate” range of concern.

Meanwhile, the bulk of Washington’s air quality issues have largely been closer to areas with active wildfires in the southeast corner of the state, as well as the north-central region near Cedar Creek. Smoke from the nearly 400,000-acre Bootleg Fire in south-central Oregon has also been partly responsible for the mass of smoke that has drifted eastward across the U.S.

In the Puget Sound region, air quality has remained stable with little to no smoke, thanks to onshore winds that have managed to “keep the smoke at bay,” according to the state-run Washington Smoke Blog.

Chelan County still safe for campers, visitors, despite wildfires

Washington saw 17 large fires through July 18, spanning a total of 184 square miles. That marks a sizable increase from 2020, which had seen six large fires across roughly 30 square miles through that same date last year.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources estimates that there are at least nine major wildfires currently burning across the state, amid an ongoing drought emergency in all but the Tacoma, Seattle, and Everett metropolitan areas.

On Tuesday, State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz announced a temporary closure of all DNR-managed lands, conservation areas, community forests, campgrounds, and roads in Eastern Washington, citing “tremendous” levels of concern related to active wildfires.

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