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Daily Life Kansas

Landowners drive through smoke from a controlled burn of a pasture near Salina, Kan., in April 2017.

ORLIN WAGNER/The Associated Press

South winds helping to bump up temperatures in Lincoln on Wednesday are also ushering in smoke from controlled burns in Kansas.

The National Weather Service posted a special statement Wednesday morning, warning of potentially unhealthy air quality over portions of Southeast Nebraska.

On Wednesday morning, the air quality was rated as unhealthy in the Omaha area. Moderate air quality concerns were reported in Lincoln.

The Kansas Flint Hills and the Osage Hills of northern Oklahoma are a massive area of tallgrass prairie. Burning the prairie keeps invasive species, such as cedar trees, at bay. It also clears out brush and dead grass that otherwise could fuel wildfires. And the fires fertilize the Plains, packing grass with nutrients to help cattle put on weight.

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As complaints have grown louder in recent years regarding air quality issues in Lincoln, Mayor Chris Beutler and others have called on Kansas ranchers to spread their burns throughout the year rather than concentrating them in the spring. 

After getting complaints from Nebraska in 2014, Kansas officials added air monitors in Lincoln and Omaha to its model and increased efforts to warn Nebraska, Lincoln and Omaha officials when smoke is blowing north.

Wednesday is expected to be mostly sunny in Lincoln -- depending on the haze -- with temperatures climbing to near 80.

Thursday's high should reach 77 before a storm system arrives Friday with the potential for thunderstorms and weekend snow.


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