Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Why is the sun red? Wildfire smoke from a continent away spreads to New York.

New York City awoke this morning to a view of the Western wildfires: a red sun in the sky.

Smoke from the blazes burning in the Western United States and Canada made its way across the continent, contributing to the morning haze in the city and elsewhere on the East Coast, said John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the New York office of the National Weather Service.

“The haze or the smoke that you see there is coming from the wildfires out in the West,” he said, “and that’s helping scatter the light, which leads to those more vivid sunrises and sunsets.”

People noticed.

Wildfires out west, mostly from Western Canada, have sent smoke all the way to the city. That smoke is creating the haze you're seeing this morning and giving the sun a red tint. 📸: Bronx – Soundview Neighborhood pic.twitter.com/Zx4AwZCOrY

Hazy mornings are nothing new during a New York City summer, Mr. Cristantello said. “That happens with or without smoke. You have those hazy days,” in part because of air pollution. But the long-traveling smoke is part of the mix, he said.

New York State issued an air quality health advisory for Tuesday, lasting until midnight, because of high levels of fine particulate matter in the air, which wildfires contribute to.

Climate change is causing wildfires to be larger and more intense, and results are visible from satellites and on the ground. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon now covers more than 388,000 acres, and is so intense that it is essentially making its own weather. Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows smoke from that fire and others making its way across wide swaths of the United States and Canada. It first reached New York City around July 15.

Mr. Cristantello said that a cold front pushing through the New York City area on Wednesday should clear out the haze, but it could return if the fires persist.

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