NC Climatologists breaks down impacts of climate change in forest fires

NC Climatologists breaks down impacts of climate change in forest fires
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 8:27 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Canada isn’t the only place on fire right now. According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, there are more than 400 wildfires burning across Canada and parts of the Northern United States with 238 reported to be out of control.

With smoky conditions and poor air quality, some ENC residents are still experiencing the impacts of climate change and forest fires.

“I didn’t really notice it until this morning. We had two planes, fighter jets, fly over and we live about 5 miles from cherry point. It was so hazy, they weren’t that high up, and you could barely see them,” said Craven County Resident, Scott Rohner.

Wildfires across Canada and the Northern United States are impacting those even in the East like the Croatan National Forest Fire.

“It was right here in the backyard, so we were seeing clouds of smoke. It got pretty smoky here for three or four days and then it finally cleared up, but it did take weeks,” Rohner says.

North Carolina experts say it’s the small particles in the smoke causing concern.

“We’re seeing that impact right here at home. Smoke is associated with these really small particles, smaller than the width of human hair to paint a picture and to breathe that in, they can penetrate really deep into the lungs and bloodstream and can irritate things in your body,” says North Carolina Division of Air Quality Public Information Officer, Shawn Taylor.

The current conditions that are causing a code red air quality alert in some parts of North Carolina and others, a code orange alert. Colors are used to dictate how severe the air quality is, with red being the most extreme.

Assistant State Climatologist Corey Davis says climate change is playing a significant role in the conditions seen.

“It’s often just a few hot, dry, windy days back to back, and that’s basically what we’ve seen over Canada just in the last week,” Davis said. “They’ve had high temperatures that have been in the 90s, that’s 20 degrees over for them at that time of year and that’s helped fuel these hundreds of large fires.”

Experts say the current air quality is expected to last through at least Friday, but a cold front could help with conditions starting next week.