Western wildfire smoke causes East Coast haze, vivid sunsets
The smoke from dozens of wildfires in the western United States is stretching clear across the country — and even pushing into Mexico, Canada and Europe. While the dangerous plumes are forcing people inside along the West Coast, residents thousands of miles away in the East are seeing unusually hazy skies and remarkable sunsets.
The wildfires racing across tinder-dry landscape in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington are extraordinary, but the long reach of their smoke isn't unprecedented. While there are only small pockets in the southeastern U.S. that are haze free, experts say the smoke poses less of a health concern for those who are farther away.
The sun was transformed into a perfect orange orb as it set over New York City on Tuesday. Photographs of it sinking behind the skyline and glinting through tree leaves flooded social media. On Wednesday, New Jersey residents described a yellow tinge to the overcast skies, and weather forecasters were kept busy explaining the phenomenon and making predictions as to how long the conditions would last.
On the opposite coast, air quality conditions were among some of the worst ever recorded. Smoke cloaked the Golden Gate Bridge and left Portland and Seattle in an ashy fog, as crews have exhausted themselves trying to keep the flames from consuming more homes and even wider swaths of forest.
Satellite images showed that smoke from the wildfires has traveled almost 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) to Britain and other parts of northern Europe, scientists said Wednesday.
The current weather system, which favors a westerly wind across the higher levels of the atmosphere, is to blame for the reach of the smoke, experts explained.
“We always seem, at times, to get the right combination of enough smoke and the upper level jet stream to line up to bring that across the...