Multiple wildfires are burning in the Appalachians from North Carolina to Virginia and West Virginia. It’s no wonder since there is plenty of fuel due to the ongoing drought. Two fires are causing poor air quality along the Blue Ridge from Bedford County, Va., to the Maryland Panhandle due to the billowing smoke.
Matts Creek wildfire
The Matts Creek fire is burning in northern Bedford County, just south of the James River. This fire started Sunday, November 12, and has already burnt more than 5,000 acres Friday morning, jumping from just over 2,600 acres since Midnight on Friday. Containment is only at 2 percent.
With the autumn trees’ leaves now mostly on the ground and a very dry fuel supply due to the severe to extreme drought conditions, it’s not surprising to hear of the acreage jump. On top of that, temperatures will rise to the upper 60s Friday with south and southwesterly wind flow, helping the fire to spread.
With both of the wildfires burning closely together and having southerly and southwesterly wind flow Friday, many are seeing hazy skies throughout the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) region. On top of that, poor air quality alerts have been issued.
Bedford, Charlotteville, Luray, and Winchester, Va., are all under air quality alerts through tonight. Sensitive groups will want to check the air quality index in their neighborhoods as the smoke billows.
Drought conditions have been slowly worsening since the spring due to the deficiency in rainfall since late 2022 in the Mid-Atlantic. Conditions have gradually gotten worse across Virginia especially with the extreme intensity – level 4 out of 5 – now being declared in the Blue Ridge.
The dry weather continues until at least the middle of Thanksgiving week, when a storm system is set to bring a deluge of helpful rainfall. Although we need several rain events to knock out the drought, that will be a great start as we head into the winter months.