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As you step outside, you may notice a strange milky tint to the sky. What is the cause of this unusual amount of haziness?

The answer lies thousands of miles to our west. Wildfires have been burning across the central and western parts of the country. Meteorologist Derrick Snyder with the National Weather Service Office of Paducah explains how this is impacting weather across the country.

“The smoke is spreading to the east across the Rocky Mountains and has been impacting quite a bit of the central and eastern parts of the US. It has really become noticeable here in the Ohio Valley over the past few days or so,” he says.

The haze creates the picture-perfect sunset. Snyder explains the science behind bright colors.

“The smoke disperses the sunlight. So when the sun sets, it can cause really colorful red sunsets and sunrises,” he says.

This smoke is also impacting the air quality in several Southern Indiana communities.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has issued an Air Quality Action Day for Wednesday and Thursday due to high levels of fine particles in the air caused by the wildfires in the western US and southern Canada.

These particles are composed of microscopic dust, soot, and liquid that settles deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled. Those people at risk are particularly vulnerable after several days of being exposed to this air.

The counties affected include Dubois, Spencer, and Vanderburgh.

Hoosiers in these areas are encouraged to:

  • Reduce activity time outdoors and avoid exercising near busy roads
  • Avoid burning wood and any other unnecessary fires
  • Combine errands into one trip
  • Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment or gas-powered recreational vehicles
  • Keep your engine tuned, and don’t let your engine idle in places like restaurant drive-thrus, banks, etc.

If you would like more information about the air quality in your area, visit idem.IN.gov.

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