Western wildfire smoke moves East
RAPID CITY, S.D. — You have undoubtedly noticed how hazy it has been for the past several days and some of you may be wondering why it seems like there is more smoke than there usually is for this time of year.
Back in June, a heat wave struck the West where portions of Canada got up to 120 degrees. This has led to wildfires with two and a half million acres that have already burned this year. Any time you have smoke move in our area with any sort of mixing to the surface, there is going to be a lot of thick smoke.
In places like New York City and portions of New York state, the National Weather Service has to put Air Quality Advisories, because you can’t even see the Statue of Liberty from Lower Manhattan since the smoke is so thick.
This is partly due to the overall pattern we have going on. The high pressure and sinking air that is sitting over all the fires out west is spinning clockwise in the atmosphere, moving the smoke east.
That is not to say we cannot have back-and-forth here where we will have some days where the smoke does clear, but we need large-scale systems to come through and sweep the atmosphere for us. We are not seeing that any time soon.
We are stuck under a heat dome. It is stagnant air that is not moving anywhere. To compound that, when you have high heat it allows for yesterday’s stale air to mix back to the surface. Normally, when a lot of the smoke is moving above us in the upper part of the atmosphere, it is mixing to the surface here.
That is a problem, especially if you have it over a several-day period. As long as the heat is on in big ways, such as above 90 degrees, and these fires are going, this is something that we are going to have to talk about, especially as long as this ridge of high pressure sets in, which looks like it’s going to be here for quite some time.