Haze continues to blanket Rochester skies: Why this brightens our sunrise and sunset

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Record wildfires continue to burn across the western part of the country this September with fatalities, evacuations, and total destruction for thousands. More than a million acres have burned.

The air quality is some of the worst in the world for those trapped among the flames in California, Oregon, Washington, and other surrounding regions. The flames continue to burn so much to the point that smoke extends for miles up into the atmosphere and gets carried thousands of miles across the globe.

Rochester and most of the northeast is graced with a level of haze that sits anywhere from 2-6 miles up into the atmosphere. During clear skies, as the sun sets, shorter wavelength light gets scattered away and the longer wavelength on the color spectrum, most often red, will be scattered into your eye.

The haze helps capture some of this light and can make for an eerie sunset. Here is another explanation from our Glossary section:

During twilight (the time before/after the sunrise/sunset when light is emerging/declining) the light of the sun is traveling through a thicker layer of the atmosphere and most of the light is being scattered away from your eye. The longer wavelengths are the only ones that actually make it to your eye. During completely clear skies if you look hard enough, you can see the entire spectrum of light. The best sunrise/sunsets occur with some clouds involved.

MORE — Can Rochester see wildfires? Meteorologist Christine Gregory answers that question here.

Remember that the sun can still damage your eye, so while it may be easier to look at, do not be tempted.

This seems like obvious advice, but the sun is commonly mistaken as the moon when a thick haze is in place. As fires continue to burn, the haze will last through Wednesday night. Expect a nice sunset both Tuesday and Wednesday. A cold front Thursday will sweep away the haze.




MORE| CBS Covers the wildfires out west

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