Following up on Patricia's post from yesterday, we have a great example of cross country smoke transport. On the top, I show the August 17 AQUA RGB image and on the bottom I have superimposed an arrow showing the flow of west coast smoke across the US and off the east coast.
The ECMWF forecast shows that the smoke will continue to follow this path through Sunday (below left). However, last night a front moved through California and brought sufficient cool air and a little rain to quiet down the Fort Complex, Barry Point and Chips fires in northern California and southern Oregon. These fires are still far from containment and may flare up again as clear air and heat returns. Rain today in the Lake Tahoe region has been over 0.25". More rain northward of that would have helped.
Short Update: August 19, 2012 19:00 EDT
Much of the US is under good air quality readings today. Ozone only reaches the moderate levels this afternoon for one hour in two areas: the LA basin and in southern Colorado. PM readings are good everywhere except for a short period where the AIRNOW readings are "moderate" in southern Michigan and in areas affected by the California fires. Moderate, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups and even Unhealthy readings have been noted in Northern California, eastern Oregon and throughout Idaho. The clouds which went through California yesterday are now in Oregon and appear to be holding down temperatures and improving the fire situation some today. In California, however, clear air and insolation have brought conditions which have increased the amount of smoke coming out of northern California (see image below left). It appears that these fires will be with us for a while. CALIPSO's overpass of Idaho on Saturday shows that the smoke is widespread horizontally and extends up to 7 km (23,000') in the vertical so it is likely that much of the smoke will be transported significant distances to the east.