N Thursday, August 21, 2014
   
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Smoke from North Florida Wildfire Could Impact Our Region this Weekend

In this update:

Smoke from a large wildfire near the Baker-Columbia County line in north Florida will impact the region through this weekend.

Key Points for this event:


The main concerns with this event are localized low visibility (which could make travel dangerous) and the potential for health problems for those with respiratory illnesses.  Through tonight, the thickest smoke will likely remain east and south of a line from Tallahassee Florida to Moultrie, Georgia.

Visible image from 10 am Thursday:

smoke-advisory-image-04-12-2012-pm-1


The current weather picture:


This satellite image shows a smoke plume (gray) emanating from a 35-thousand acre wildfire near the Baker- Columbia County line in north Florida.  The faint green wind barbs overlaid on this image show the northeast wind in the lower layer (surface to 1 km AGL) of the atmosphere.  These winds were gradually veering to the east, transporting this smoke into portions of the Florida Big Bend South Georgia today through Friday.  In fact, depending on the size and intensity of the wildfire, smoke will likely continue across portions of the Florida Big Bend and/or South Georgia through this weekend.

Smoke forecast for 3 pm EDT today:

smoke-advisory-image-04-12-2012-pm-2


Smoke forecast for midnight EDT:

smoke-advisory-image-04-12-2012-pm-3


Smoke Forecast:


The following images are forecasts generated from sophisticated computer models designed to compute the concentration of smoke particles as they are affected by the local weather (winds, instability, temperature, etc.).  The brighter colors (yellow and orange) indicate the forecast highest concentration of smoke, and therefore the lowest visibility and poorest air quality.  The grays show at least some smoke, though probably not enough to severely reduce visibility.

These images should not be taken too literally, as the location and timing of the smoke plume can be off by several miles and/or hours.  This is meant to give a rough idea of what the smoke will be doing over the next 12 hours.

Later tonight the main smoke plume will have shifted north, impacting the Valdosta area with low visibility.  Travel along I-75 may be particularly hazardous overnight.  Although the model output doesn’t go beyond midnight, it is reasonable to assume that smoke will continue to impact parts of South Georgia and/or the Florida Big Bend through this weekend.

Impacts:

The most widespread impact will be poor air quality.  Even relatively low concentrations of smoke can affect those with respiratory illnesses.  The visibility will be the other main impact, though low visibilities will be more localized.  Our main concern as far as travel is the I-75 area tonight (near Valdosta), where the visibility could drop below one mile suddenly, posing a major risk to motorists.  In January of this year there were several fatalities and injuries on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida, where smoke from a nearby fire played a key role.

Summary:

Smoke will spread across the Florida Big Bend and South Georgia today and tonight, and likely persist across portions of this area through the weekend.

The main impacts will be poor air quality and dangerous driving conditions due to low visibility.

The lowest visibility will likely be around the Valdosta area later tonight through Friday morning.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee will continue to monitor this situation.  If you have any questions, please give our office a call at 850-942-8833 or on our toll free line at
800-598-4562 and ask to speak to a meteorologist.  We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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