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Energy & Environment

Wildfire Smoke, Haze Expected To Linger In Charlotte Though Weekend

North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center

Smoke and haze are expected to roll across much of North Carolina and many northern parts of South Carolina on Thursday, limiting visibility and potentially causing problems for people with breathing difficulties.

Forecasters says the smoke originated thousands of miles away from wildfires in Canada and the western United States, and could linger in the Carolinas through the weekend.

The thick haze triggered a Code Orange Air Quality Alert from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality on Thursday morning. The alert was given for 94 of North Carolina's 100 counties.

Scott Krentz, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Greenville-Spartanburg office, said the alert is meant to be a warning for children, older adults and people with medical conditions that make breathing difficult, such as asthma.

"Generally, healthy people should be OK, but folks that have preexisting conditions that could hamper them, they should take precautions. They should probably stay inside more if they can, in air conditioning," Krentz said.

Krentz said as temperatures increase into the 90s Thursday afternoon, the milky smoke could mix closer to the surface and appear thicker to those on the ground.

The smoke could cause some people to experience scratchy throats or watery eyes. Some people might also detect a burning wood smell that may fade as temperatures cool in the evening hours.

Krentz said the haze is also expected to produce unusually vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

The smoke is expected to linger over the Carolinas through the weekend, Krentz said, before a northern front moves in to clear some of the haze Sunday.

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