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June 16, 2008

Smoke from NC, VA fires reached MD

As I left work Friday evening I could detect a smoky aroma in the air. And looking out from The Sun's garage on Calvert Street, I noted a pretty thick haze. Maybe you got a whiff of it too, on Friday or Saturday.

Turns out, as forecast earlier in the week, we were downwind of several stubborn wildfires in eastern North Carolina and in the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia. Those fires have been burning for quite a while now, and on Friday the winds finally shifted and began carrying the smoke up from the south. It eventually got all the way to New Hampshire before more wind shifts began to sweep it out over the ocean.

This sort of thing happens from time to time. Anybody else recall a weekend in 2002 when forest fires in Quebec began sending smoke wafting our way. It smelled like smokehouse in Baltimore, and the skies were noticeably beige as a result. 

And lots more probably remember the smokey stump dump fire in Clarksville 10 years ago this month, and another in Baltimore County that began in 1992, sent smoke drifting across the city, burned for 18 months and cost $3 million to control.  

Anyway, here's how the NC and VA fires looked Saturday, from NASA's orbiting Aqua Earth Observing satellite. They're still burning. I suspect vacationers on the Outer Banks are pretty sick of the smell. Anybody reading this on the OBX?




Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:48 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Air quality


We were in SNJ on Saturday and the air was so smokey you couldn't see the airplanes dragging ads behind them. It was an odd smell, but gone by Sunday.

I remember the 2002 fires from Quebec... i had an exchange student from Kosova staying with me, and she could smell it more than i could, maybe because she was new to the area. i do remember all of the smokieness.

I could really smell it on Friday evening.

I agree that forest fire smoke shouldn't be thought all that big a deal.

If April showers bring May flowers, does June sometimes naturally bring the smell of natural summer-time smoke?

Taxpayers could save so much money, if only the ex-purts could find more forest fires that aren't really much threat to human interests, to leave to nature to burn more naturally without excessive and costly wildfire suppression.

So what if the smell may get sometimes really strong? It will soon pass. Much like a "really big campfire" I imagine. Of course one's eyes may briefly burn, when a gust of wind finds one downwind of it.

We are from Richmond, VA and vacationing in Kill Devil Hills this week in NC (MP 9.5) for those who are familar. We come here every year and I don't think I've ever experienced fires like this. We can actually smell them in Richmond. Talking to a local, apparently the fires are expected to burn another 3 months before extinguishing themselves. The first day of the fires she said it was raining ashes. The mornings are pretty smokey here, but clear by lunchtime. I think the smell factor depends mostly on the winds (or either we've gotten used to it).
We're still having a great's not too bad in my opinion...

Yes, I live on the Outer Banks and have read your story. Every morning the smoke smell is in my house since the indoor and outdoor temps are equal, thus my air conditioning doesn't run much. I used to love the smell of campfires, but guess this is an example of "be careful what you wish for."

Last night in VA Beach, some big rains and thunderstorms came through for about 2 maybe 3 hours. Gave us a lot of good and needed rain. I thought - yes, this should dampen the smoke because it was pretty heavy on Monday. Well it's Tuesday morning and the smoke is heavier than the day before and for the first time in my area, it's smokey right from beginning of the day. Very smokey, actually. This kinda sucks.

We live in Virginia Beach and the smoke is worse today. We are planning a camping trip to Hatteras/Frisco and are wondering if it is worth the trip. Anyone down there that can let us know? We would appreciate it.

Camping in Frisco? Since Frisco is south of the fires, you will be affected only if the winds start coming from the NW-N. Check the weather forecast.

Two weekends ago, we were in Kill Devil Hills and left Sunday at 2 AM for the ride back to Philadelphia because the stench of smoke made sleeping impossible in our hotel. We'll come back sometime when the forest isn't in rejuvenating mode.

I live here in Kill Devil Hills, and I can tell you I am sick of the smoke & smell.

The smoke haze from the fires is present in Ocean City, Maryland today. Locals are unfamiliar with the source,however I left OBX to escape the smoke and visit family. My surprise to see Smoke is not as thick and annoying as on the OBX, but annoying enough.

FR: We were in Lewes on Saturday evening. The smell, and haze, were quite apparent there, too. Seemed to be gone today.

I just returned from vacationing in Duck w/ my fam, and here's the best I can offer by way of what we experienced.
The smoke was frequent, but rarely what I would consider really bad. The winds shift and, therefore, it never stays heavy for any extended period of time in one area. It bothered me most on a couple of nights when we attempted to keep windows open for fresh air and the sounds of the ocean, then at some point during the night, the smoke rolled in and we had to close up.
I think it's steadily worse for areas just to the S of where we were (KDH, Nags Head, Manteo, etc.) but even those areas have their clear moments.
I was golfing in Nags Head one day, and at tee time (7:30ish) the smoke was really bad. By 9:00 or so, it had cleared out and stayed clear for the majority of the day.
It didn't by any means ruin our trip.
Oh, one more thing- when we were on the beach, even with smoke in the area, it was not as noticable. Being lower on the shore and with the fairly steady wind, you don't smell it as bad.
I live in VB, and the smoke from the Dismal Swamp fires has been really bad the last few days.

Yep - we are in Nags Head and have been smelling a burning rubber smell. It was really bad last night - almost makes you gag!

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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