Haze, smoke spreads across the Carolinas from wildfires across the country

Health officials want people, especially people in sensitive groups, to take it easy if you are going outdoors.
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -The WBTV viewing area is under a code orange air quality alert right now.

Smoke from wildfires thousands of miles away is getting blow right into the Carolinas. It can be dangerous to your health.

Health officials are not saying this means lock your doors and stay inside. Instead, they want people, especially people in sensitive groups, to take it easy if you are going outdoors.

It is not hard to see that haze if you just look out toward the Charlotte skyline or anywhere else with an open area. Several people who work in uptown say it was so thick recently they thought it was fog.

Instead, it’s particles from the wildfires in the western side of the country - almost 2,000 miles away. Health officials say people with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults and people who spend a lot of time outside should be cautious.

They say the longer you are outside or the more you exert yourself, the higher the air pollution risk. Mecklenburg County’s health director says there is no reason to make too big of a fuss over this.

“A code orange - you can still go for a walk in the evening,” says Gibbie Harris, the director. “Healthy individuals have less to be concerned about.”

People are feeling its full weight.

”I feel like I just ran in a fishbowl,” says Abby Ridenhour, who was running with her dog Thursday. “It’s difficult honestly.”

While some choose to power through.

”Definitely been breathing more today, been breathing heavier,” says biker Nicholas Charleston.

Others are taking it easy.

”I’m doing shorter runs and not really timing myself so much,” says another runner.

What’s shocking people the most is where the haze is coming from.

”There’s no way like how is this even possible,” says Charleston.

WBTV Meteorologist Jason Myers has an answer to that question.

”That gets transported into the Carolinas by upper-level winds, the jet stream,” says Myers.

And for those wondering how long it is gonna stick around, Myers has an answer for that as well.

”It looks to stay around not only for Thursday but Friday, the weekend and possibly the days ahead,” he says.

That is not creating any solace for people planning to grace the greenway anytime soon.

”On the one hand it doesn’t surprise me but on the other hand it worries me,” says Caitlin Swords-Bean.

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