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What’s up with the smoke over Tampa Bay? Thank Levy County.

Commuters saw the smokey, hazy skies as they drove home. Strong southern winds are carrying the smoke from a prescribed fire in Levy County.
Smoke from the Levy County controlled burn travelled across three counties in order to reach Hillsborough.
Smoke from the Levy County controlled burn travelled across three counties in order to reach Hillsborough. [ VisitTampaBay.com ]
Published Jan. 22, 2020

TAMPA ⁠— As if the cold wasn’t bad enough, Mother Nature threw something else at Tampa Bay on Tuesday:

A smokey haze filled the skies from Hernando to Hillsborough counties during the commute home on the bay area’s coldest afternoon of the season.

The smoke is the result of a prescribed burn at the Goethe State Forest in Levy County — just north of Citrus County — that was carried south across the Tampa Bay region by strong winds, according to Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue.

A hazy I-275 on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.
A hazy I-275 on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. [ Florida Department of Transportation ]

The smoke was so prevalent that the National Weather Service shared satellite imagery of the haze moving south across the region.

Fire officials in both Pasco and Hernando counties took to social media to warn residents who has respiratory issues should close their windows to avoid becoming irritated.

Meanwhile the fire is having a more pronounced effect in Levy County, where roads have been closed as the prescribed fire shrinks visibility.