Derek Redd, The Intelligencer of Wheeling
WHEELING, W.Va. — Residents of West Virginia’s northern panhandle could breathe easier — literally — as they went about their business this weekend. The haze blanketing the region from Canadian wildfires had finally started to dissipate after a couple of days of sitting in the Ohio Valley region.
According to the federal AirNow.gov website, the region’s air quality index had bounced back into the 60s as of Friday. Only those unusually sensitive to particle pollutants would feel the effects.
Yet the chances of another smoky atmosphere won’t disappear as long as those Canadian wildfires continue to burn, said David Shallenberger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. Shallenberger added that predicting when it might happen next is very difficult.
Shallenberger said the steering flows — airflow that exerts a strong influence upon the direction of movement of disturbances embedded in it — that move weather patterns into the area can also do the same thing to smoke.
If a low-pressure system moves into the Ohio Valley, he added, that brings northerly northwestern winds behind it.
“So when that happens, as long as your source region or your fires that are still up in Canada are still burning, and they probably are still going to be burning for quite a while, that’s bringing all that smoke down,” Shallenberger said.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, there were 500 wildfires burning in Canada as of Friday, with 233 of them burning out of control. …