Skip to Content

California Wildfire Smoke Traveled 3,000 Miles Across the Country to New York And D.C.

Earlier this week, cities in Northern California, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Chico, were said to have the world’s worst air quality due to the ongoing destructive Camp Fire which ignited in early November.

On Monday, the smoke from the wildfires on the West Coast had traveled 3,000 miles across the country, and visibly affected the air in parts of New York and Washington, D.C., the Guardian reported. The smoke created a haze over the New York City skyline, but was diluted enough by cleaner air by the time it traveled across the country, according to the Weather Channel.

CNN meteorologist Judson Jones explained that as the smoke “gets caught up in the higher atmosphere it can travel across the country and even farther.” According to Jones, “the farther away it travels the harder it is to distinguish as the smoke particles disperse. Often the only way to see it is during sunrises and/or sunsets when the sunlight is refracted, showing off the upper atmosphere.”

Kathryn Prociv, a meteorologist for the Today show tweeted a photo of New York’s hazy skies, along with an observation map of the smoke’s drift route from California. The smoke was also visible to people living in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Though the smoke is still high in the atmosphere, it can still inflame health problems as it settles, according to the Guardian. In Washington, D.C. for example, the air quality on Tuesday and Wednesday was classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as “moderate,” meaning people who are particularly sensitive to particle pollution could experience shortness of breath and coughing.

In California, relief efforts are still underway as fires are ongoing. The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed at least 81 people, with 699 people unaccounted for, NPR reported Tuesday.