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Smoke from Georgia wildfires blows into the Tennessee Valley reducing air quality, visibility

Wildfire burning near Mentone on Lookout Mountain (Photo: Ashley Gifford)

Wildfire burning near Mentone on Lookout Mountain (Photo: Ashley Gifford)

FORT PAYNE, Ala. – As extreme drought conditions persist across Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, wildfires are becoming more numerous.

According to Seth Hawkins with the Georgia Forestry Commission, officials responded to over 29 wildfires in Georgia on Thursday, including one that is burning on Lookout Mountain not far from Mentone.

Numerous other brush fires began yesterday in Alabama, including several that shut down a lane of Interstate 65 between Cullman and Birmingham.

The fires that have been burning across northern Georgia have been much larger than any fire in Alabama. The Georgia Forestry Commission says a wildfire burning in the Cohutta Wilderness area near the North Carolina state line covers over 10,500 acres. The large fires are producing so much smoke, the plumes are easily visible from space.

North winds have been blowing smoke from these large fires down into the Atlanta metro area where air quality has been extremely poor in recent days.

Visible satellite image from Saturday, November 12 shows wildfire smoke originating in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee blowing into Alabama (Image: NASA)

Visible satellite image from Saturday, November 12 shows wildfire smoke originating in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee blowing into Alabama (Image: NASA)

Smoke began blowing into the Tennessee Valley on Saturday as east winds developed. With the easterly flow continuing Sunday, expect areas of smoke to continue through tonight and early Monday morning.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville issued a public information statement about the smoke Sunday afternoon.

There is no chance of significant rain within the next 10-14 days, so expect the threat of wildfires to continue.