Smoke from the deadly wildfires raging across the West Coast reached Europe last week and is expected to travel over 5,000 miles again this weekend, according to data released Wednesday by the European Commission’s atmosphere monitoring service, a show of this historic fire season’s continued severity.
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) predicts that smoke will start to cross the Atlantic Ocean again, reaching Northern Europe later this week.
According to CAMS, the smoke already reached Europe late last week, but during a brief respite, remained off the West Coast and over the Pacific Ocean for several days before beginning to blow back across the United States and Canada.
Smoke is expected to reach Iceland either late Friday or early Saturday, before heading to Norway, Sweden and Finland, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS; Scotland and Scandinavia are also expected to be impacted.
Last week, residents of California’s Bay Area and Oregon woke up to blood-red skies from the mix of smoke and dust, which has since left parts of the U.S. with the worst air quality in the world and has been blamed for this week’s hazy skies in New York.
On Monday, Multnomah County, which houses Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, warned residents not to go outside as the air had become hazardous (though the air quality is constantly changing, it will likely remain in the region of very unhealthy to hazardous for a while in several major cities).
The fire activity has been tens to hundreds of times more intense than the U.S.’s average from 2003 to 2019, CAMS reported, with Parrington adding: “The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than in any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers.”
The fires have also meant California and Oregon are facing their greatest annual amounts of wildfire-related carbon emissions since 2003.
“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8000 kilometres away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration,” said Parrington.
Western states have been battling dangerous fires since the beginning of September caused by hot temperatures and dry conditions. To date, over five million acres of land have been scorched, tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes and at least 27 have been killed.
“Air Is So Hazardous ‘No One Should Be Outside’ In Portland, County Warns” (Forbes)
“California, Oregon Cloaked In Blood-Red Haze As Fires Worsen, Deaths Mount (Photos)” (Forbes)