Hundreds of wildfires in Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S. have generated a plume of smoke traceable as far east as Washington, D.C. If you’ve noticed more tints of orange and red in the dawn and evening skies, it could well be from the enhanced scattering effect of increased smoke particles in the atmosphere.
2,720 wildfires have sprung up in Canada this year, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, and 43 new fires have begun just in the past 24 hours. Over 2.5 million acres of Canada have burned already in 2014. The Alaska Dispatch News reports that the “southern Northwest Territories is experiencing the hottest, driest summer in some 50 years.”
Wildfire activity has also flourished in the Pacific Northwest U.S. A vicious wildfire in north central Washington – believed to be set off by lightning and enhanced by recent hot, dry weather - has destroyed up to 100 homes reports the Spokesman-Review.
The Associated Press offers this video overview of the devastating blaze:
The jet stream – or high altitude river of strong winds – has transported this smoke from these fires southeastward across North America.
In the U.S., high smoke particle concentrations have compromised air quality in parts of the northern Rockies. Missoula, Mont. is particularly particulate today as smoke looms thick in the air.
— KPAX Missoula News (@kpaxnews) July 18, 2014
On satellite imagery Thursday, the smoke plume could be seen spreading across the Midwest all the way towards Mid-Atlantic.
Sure enough, enhanced tints of orange and pink were apparent in last night’s sunset and this morning’s sunrise – likely fingerprints from fires thousands of miles away.
The flow of high altitude winds this evening has changed much since yesterday, so this evening’s sunset could also be influenced although a satellite smoke plume is not as apparent today due to increased cloud cover to our west.
(Capital Weather Gang’s Ian Livingston and Jason Samenow contributed to this post)