Smoke from western wildfires visible in Central Texas today

Weather Blog

Austonian Weather Cam at 8 a.m. Friday showing a haze over the eastern sky

Smoke from record-setting wildfires in the western U.S. is making its way to Texas today, riding upper-level winds aloft on a 1,500-mile journey.

A KXAN viewer in Sun City, north of Austin, complained of the smell of smoke when she went outdoors this morning. She says her neighbors noticed the smell as well.

Visible on the satellite image below as a gray haze (and roughly outlined in maroon), the smoke is being carried southeastward toward Texas, and even as far as the Great Lakes, around the periphery of a ridge of high pressure over the southwest. It is expected to persist locally through the weekend as the flow aloft remains northerly over Texas.

GOES-17 satellite imagery Thursday evening showing a broad plume of wildfire smoke in the atmosphere across the U.S., Canada and Pacific Ocean. Smoke is outlined roughly in maroon. (NOAA)

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the smoke is mainly elevated in the sky as opposed to close to the ground in Central Texas, which is why air quality is not expected to be significantly affected Friday through the weekend.

Those with asthma or other sensitive respiratory conditions may consider limiting outdoor exercise today through the weekend. The general population should not feel any effects.

Read the detailed daily air quality forecast from TCEQ below:

Friday 09/18/2020

Light to moderate amounts of smoke from ongoing widespread wildfire activity across the Western U.S. may continue over the northern half of the state generally along and north of a line from Presidio to Galveston, with heavier amounts possibly beginning to filter into the Panhandle through Northeast Texas. The majority of the smoke will likely remain aloft, but enough could reach the surface for the daily PM2.5 AQI to reach the middle to upper end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Amarillo, Dallas-Fort Worth, Lubbock, and Tyler-Longview areas; the lower to middle end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Austin, Beaumont-Port Arthur, El Paso, Midland-Odessa, and Waco-Killeen areas; possibly the lower end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Houston area; and the upper end of the “Good” range (perhaps with an isolated low “Moderate” or two) in parts of the Big Bend, San Antonio, and Victoria areas.

Saturday 09/19/2020 Outlook

Moderate amounts of smoke from ongoing widespread wildfire activity across the Western U.S. may continue to spread over much of the state, with heavier amounts possibly continuing over portions of the Panhandle through North Central and Northeast Texas. The majority of the smoke will likely remain aloft, but enough could reach the surface for the daily PM2.5 AQI to reach the upper end of the “Moderate” range or possibly higher in parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area; the middle to upper end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Brownsville-McAllen, Corpus Christi, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, San Antonio, Tyler-Longview, Victoria, and Waco-Killeen areas; and the lower to middle end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Big Bend and El Paso areas.

Sunday 09/20/2020 Outlook

Light to moderate amounts of smoke from ongoing widespread wildfire activity across the Western U.S. may continue over much of the state, but may begin to weaken and clear out along and just inland from the Texas coast as a potential tropical storm meanders around the upper western Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the smoke will likely remain aloft, but enough could reach the surface for the daily PM2.5 AQI to reach the middle to upper end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth and Lubbock areas; the lower to middle end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Amarillo, Austin, Big Bend, El Paso, Laredo, Midland-Odessa, San Antonio, Tyler-Longview, and Waco-Killeen areas; and the upper end of the “Good” range (perhaps with an isolated low “Moderate” or two) in parts of the Beaumont-Port Arthur, Brownsville-McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Victoria areas.

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