Smoky smell and haze explained

Smoky smell and haze explained

13 April 2011

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USA — The smoke that is lingering in the area today can trigger health issues for people with lung and/or heart problems.

Jeremy Collinson, environmental health supervisor with the Central Nebraska Health Department, said he is recommending that people who have heart issues or lung problems, such as asthma, stay indoors or limit their outdoor activities until the smoke clears.

“It is a concern,” he said. “But once the wind comes up or there are atmospheric changes, it should clear off.” According to Scott Bryant, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hastings, there are a lot of controlled burns in the Tri-Cities this morning, and there were a number of similar burns in the Flint Hills region of eastern Kansas yesterday.

Southeastern winds over the last 18 to 24 hours helped push the smoke from Kansas up into Central Nebraska. Some of the fires are visible on the weather service’s satellites, he said.

The local burns and the ones in Kansas are part of the normal “spring cleanup,” but what’s making it a little unusual is “atmospheric inversion,” he said.

The atmosphere usually gets cooler as it rises, but with inversion it gets warmer as it rises, which holds the cooler air toward the ground. That’s causing the smoke to stay close to the ground in a fog-like state, Bryant said.

The smoke will likely stay in the area through the morning and maybe into the afternoon, Bryant said.

Visibility was down to approximately one mile in the area this morning, he said.

Cooler weather will be moving in Thursday, bringing rain and wind, Bryant said.

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