Smoke from a major wildfire in Eastern North Carolina will spread westward into the Coastal Plain and Piedmont overnight and Thursday.
We certainly don't see wildfires very often in Eastern North Carolina but the past year has been anything but ordinary. For almost one year nearly all of the state was in the grips on one of the worst droughts ever known in the area. Now we are facing a massive wildfire that is consuming hundreds, if not thousands of new acreage each day. Until Wednesday most of the smoke had been confined to areas north and east of the fire as winds blew mainly from the south and west. That all changed on Wednesday as a cold front came through the area shifting winds to a northeast to east direction. The smoke is now progressing into much of inland North Carolina and represents a significant problem for many residents. A Dense Smoke Advisory will remain in effect at least until 10 am on Thursday for the thick and heavy smoke. Visibilities during the afternoon and evening lowered to between one and two miles in many locations. The visibilities should drop even further overnight and could reach one-quarter mile in many spots by sunrise as an overnight temperature inversion and light winds force the smoke to spread out along the Earth's s surface. Traveling along Highways 258, 11, and 17 could be especially hazardous during the early morning hours. People with respiratory problems are encouraged to stay indoors until conditions improve.