LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — On Monday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued a smoke advisory for potentially downgraded air quality that could extend to the Omaha and Lincoln metros by Tuesday morning.
Planned fires, or prescribed burns, are taking place in Kansas and Oklahoma in order to manage prairie and rangelands, which serves purposes ranging from the destruction of invasive species to releasing nutrients into the soil. The smoke from the intentional burning may affect the air quality as far as Nebraska, which would be noticeable in the Grand Island and York on Monday evening and then in the Omaha and Lincoln areas by Tuesday morning.
The air impact is predicted to be moderate in the national Air Quality Index, which is identified as the yellow category behind green which is considered "good." When the AQI reaches the moderate level, Nebraska DHHS recommends that those considered to be in the "unusually sensitive groups" should consider limiting
their prolonged/heavy exertion while outdoors.
The Centers for Disease Control says that individuals with respiratory or heart issues may be affected. Conditions that may categorize an individual in the unusually sensitive category could have asthma, COPD, pre-existing heart and lung diseases as well as age categories such as young children and the elderly.
The April 4 through 5 smoke advisory is based on smoke plume modeling, air quality monitors and data around Nebraska including weather and wind. The DHHS works every year with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Douglas County Health Department to notify citizens of the springtime prescribed burns in Kansas and Oklahoma — known as the Flint Hills region, where up to 2.4 million acres can be burned.
AirNow offers a Fire and Smoke Map in order to monitor the AQI and other metrics in real-time.