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Wildfire smoke headed to St. Louis

Smoke could make it over Missouri and Illinois by the weekend, but will definitely arrive later next week

ST. LOUIS — As of Thursday afternoon, the worst air quality in the world is in California. Purple Air tracks air quality index scores from sites across the globe. 

The site shows California's ratings are high, varying from unhealthy to very unhealthy to hazardous. 

The high air quality index scores are due to smoke billowing from wildfires across Northern California. A series of rare thunderstorms sparked many spot fires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area. Quickly, the spot fires grew into raging infernos. 

"There's reported pictures of embers actually falling the size of a chocolate chip cookie being basically thrown ten miles out in front of this and causing spot fires," Cal Fire Chief Ian Larkin said in a press conference this week.

The smoke being sent up by these fires is so prolific, NASA satellites can easily track it from space. Smoke is spreading from California into neighboring states and further just touching the edge of the Great Plains. 

As the fires grow in California, smoke will continue to be carried through the atmosphere. Smoke could make it over Missouri and Illinois by the weekend, but will definitely arrive later next week.

When the smoke arrives over the St. Louis area, it will not be anywhere close to the intensity the west coast is seeing. Expect air quality to diminish a bit. Sunrises and sunsets will also have more red, orange and yellow hues due to smoke particles scattering light differently. 

A helpful resource for air quality, fire tracking and smoke coverage is AirNow.