The air won’t clear in South Carolina.
Smoke from several fires across the Southeast led the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to issue a Code RED Air Quality alert for most of the state. Fires in both Carolinas as well as Tennessee and Georgia introduced enough particles in the air to make it dangerous to breathe. DHEC warns that individuals with respiratory issues and heart conditions should limit their time outside.
DHEC issued a Code RED Air Quality alert for the following 25 counties: Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union, and York.
Meteorologist Lauren Visin with the National Weather Service in Greenville said a cold front brought the smoke into the state but,”once the smoke arrived in the area, this high pressure is setting up right now. And so we aren’t going to get a lot of wind near the surface so we’re not going to be able to clear out a lot of that smoke.” Visin said the condition will stay the same until Thursday.
Visin expects another cold front to flow through the state this weekend, potentially clearing up the smoke. However depending on the direction of the winds it could worsen the air quality across the South Carolina.
“We get gusty winds in a lot of cases behind a cold front passing. So as that happens we are actually concerned about the fact that some of the flames might be fanned up per se.” Visin said, “So we might get a little increase in fire activity.”
With an increase in fire activity, smoky conditions could elevate to the NWS’s highest level Code Purple. For now though DHEC recommends that only people with respiratory issues and heart conditions worry about air quality across the state.
The Code RED air quality precede a state of emergency declaration in Pickens County as a wildfire continue to grow in its mountain wilderness near the North Carolina border.