AUSTIN, Texas — While wildfires across the West Coast continue to destroy homes and communities, they're also bringing a major threat of very unhealthy air quality to areas that are usually known for their clean living and stunning views.
On Monday, air quality index readings ranged from 350 to more than 515 across many major cities in California, Oregon and Washington. This is considered "hazardous" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's air quality monitoring website Airnow.gov.
When the air quality is forecast to be "Very Unhealthy" or "Hazardous," it is recommended for everyone to cut back on outdoor activities. This forecast is not changing anytime for residents across the West Coast.
Millions of acres have burned and a lot of that smoke is moving east. These fires are pumping huge plumes of smoke into the atmosphere that extend across a distance of over 4,000 miles, and yes, Texas is seeing some of that smoke now as well.
So what does the air quality forecast hold for Texas?
Currently, light to moderate amounts of smoke from the ongoing widespread wildfire activity is over portions of Texas. Roughly bounded by Interstates 10 and 20. There are also seasonal fires across the southeastern U.S. contributing lighter amounts of smoke in eastern portions of the state. The majority of the smoke will likely remain higher up in the atmosphere, so this keeps our air quality "Good" for the moment being.
It's something we will be monitoring closely and, if enough smoke reaches the surface, this could potentially drop our air quality down to the "Moderate" range. The current air quality forecast shows green bars through the rest of the workweek for Austin. This means, our air quality is as good as it gets, for now. We'll keep you updated if this changes.