Smoke from the wildfires ravaging California has drifted across the U.S., reaching parts of the East Coast and Europe, officials said.
“Satellite images this morning show smoke aloft moving over much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” the National Weather Service’s Baltimore-Washington office tweeted on Tuesday. “This smoke is obscuring the sun, and will keep temperatures a few degrees cooler today than what would be observed if the smoke was not present.”
“Amazingly, that wildfire smoke has traveled thousands of miles and finally has reached the East,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz told USA TODAY. “It looks like clouds, but it is smoke. And we are stuck with this until the weather pattern changes.”
The fires have been burning in California, Washington, Oregon, and other states, killing at least 22 people and burning more than 3.3 million acres in California as of Monday, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Smoke from the fires has been releasing pollutants and spreading ash across cities, creating unhealthy air.
“The intense heat from the wildfires lofted the carbon monoxide high into the atmosphere ... the jet stream then blew the carbon monoxide plume eastward across the U.S. and over the Atlantic Ocean,” NASA officials wrote in a statement.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued its record-breaking 28th consecutive Spare the Air alert on Friday for Monday, NBC News reported.
“A thick blanket of smoke from the many wildfires blazing in California and Oregon is causing unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area,” the air district’s Executive Office Jack Broadbent said, according to the publication. “More than ever this weekend, residents should track air quality conditions in their communities and protect their health and avoid smoke exposure by staying indoors.”
Air purifiers have been selling out in San Francisco Bay area stores, NBC News reported. California Gov. Gavin Newsom compared breathing air from wildfires to “smoking 20 packs of cigarettes.”
President Donald Trump visited Sacramento on Monday for a wildfire briefing with Newsom, according to The Sacramento Bee. While state officials connected the fires to the impacts of climate change, Trump focused on forest management when speaking to reporters.
“Well, I think a lot of things are possible. When trees fall down after a short period of time they become very dry — really like a matchstick... and they can explode. Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground it’s just fuel for the fires,” Trump said.
“We’re in the midst of a climate emergency,” Newsom said Friday. “We’re experiencing what so many people predicted decades ago... I’m exhausted that we have to continue to debate this issue.”