Wildfire Haze Making its Way to the Northeast

Weather Blog

There’s a lot going on weather wise across the country with a major hurricane approaching the gulf coast, severe weather anticipated for portions of the northeast including us here in western New York, and deadly wildfires that have already been affecting portions of California. Check out this tweet from yesterday:

Sometimes if the pattern and wind flow is just right, smoke from the wildfires out west can travel as far as the northeast, and recent models are indicating just that for tonight and into tomorrow.

The HRRR smoke model shows indications WNY could see a hazy sky from wildfire smoke as far away as from California over the next couple of days.

The HRRR-smoke model is an experimental model that relies on data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and NASA satellites that is a decent tool to simulate where the wildfire smoke will go.

The first loop below shows vertically integrated smoke, which shows all the smoke in a vertical column all the way into high levels of the atmosphere. This is what you would typically see at sunrise and sunset. The second loop shows forecast smoke at 6,000 feet above ground level, which is around 800 millibars or so in the low to mid levels of the atmosphere.

HRRR-Smoke Model showing Vertically Integrated Smoke
HRRR-Smoke Model showing 6000 ft. Above Ground Level Smoke

You can read more about the HRRR Smoke model HERE.

There are two sides to wildfire smoke as it can not only provide stunning colors to our sunsets, but it can be detrimental to our health and the environment. More on the effects of wildfire smoke HERE.

How will this impact us? We may get a hazy sky and colorful sunset depending on the timing of the showers and storms anticipated for tomorrow, but it’s uncertain we’ll see anything too noteworthy if heavy downpours and thick clouds block the view.

Our area may see a dip in our air quality with an Air Quality Index (AQI) anticipated around 50-70, which would only pose a risk for those especially sensitive to minor levels of polluted air. Plus, with an anticipated hot and humid air mass in place with dew points in the 70s, that would only further enhance the poor quality of the air. Here’s the AQI scale below:

Photo courtesy: airnow.gov

Essentially, the greater the AQI, the greater the level of air pollution, and therefore greater concern with the quality of the air.

You can check out the latest on the forecast HERE.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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