The poor air quality across the Carolinas for the past week has affected the South Carolina and Western Carolina football teams as they prepare for their game Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina’s football players practiced indoors Wednesday, according to athletics spokesman Steve Fink.
Western Carolina, located in Cullowhee, N.C., has experienced the same hazy, smoky conditions seen across South Carolina, “but it hasn’t been all that bad,” said media relations director Daniel Hooker.
“We’ve had some players practicing wearing masks or face covers because of the heavy air,” Hooker said. “But it hasn’t really adversely affected things here on campus.”
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Wildfires burning throughout several Southeastern states are the cause of the poor air conditions.
Winds are expected to shift Thursday to be more out of the north or northeast, which would minimize the amount of smoke being drawn into the Central Midlands, said Al Moore, meteorologist at the Columbia office of the National Weather Service. But the air flow will be weak and will not help disperse the smoke or move it away that much, Moore said. And the winds will shift again Friday, potentially increasing the amount of smoke in the Central Midlands again.
All three NCAA soccer matches at USC’s Stone Stadium on Thursday will be played as scheduled, the school announced Wednesday evening. The air quality for Thursday has been upgraded to a Code Orange alert (unhealthy for sensitive groups) from a Code Red alert (unhealthy) that was in effect Wednesday, according to the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control.
The S.C. High School League said it would wait until Thursday to decide whether Friday’s football playoffs schedule will be affected by the poor air conditions. The playoffs have already been delayed because of Hurricane Matthew.