WESTERN WILDFIRES SMOKY SKIES

A hummingbird visits a red canna lilly flower to gather nectar while the morning sun in Springfield, Ill., is diffused by smoke from massive wildfires in western states nearly 2,000 miles away. The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Ill., said the sky in central Illinois will remain hazy the next few days. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP)

A milky haze to the central Illinois skies the past couple of days is from the wildfires burning out West, said a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

With a frontal boundary coming, the air quality forecast will go up a tick to moderate and central Illinois could even get a whiff of the smoke that has burned millions of acres in California, Oregon, Washington and into British Columbia.

Kirk Huettl of the NWS said persons with respiratory problems should be able to bear the situation. There has been no reduction in visibility on the surface either, Huettl added.

The haze will continue into Thursday, when temperatures in the area start to cool off, he said.

"It's something we usually don't see, especially for this many days," Huettl said.

The smoke rises with the warm air to about 20,000 to 30,000 feet, usually where the feather, wispy cirrus clouds are located. The smoke is being carried out as far as New England and the Atlantic states by the prevailing winds out of the west, Huettl said.

Huettl added that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the moderate air quality lingered into Thursday, though it should spell few problems.

The trade off is that the haze is "giving us beautiful sunrises and sunsets, more of a reddish sun," Huettl said.

Some of the fires are as far east as the front range of the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, he pointed out. Central Illinois would have seen smoke from the more intense West Coast fires anyway, though "just not as dense of a layer," Huettl said.

He forecast the West coast would remain dry, meaning no immediate relief from the ongoing wildfires.

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