The wildfires in the Pacific Northwest have been on a devastating scale. Starting in California they have spread north to Oregon and Washington states and consumed millions of acres of land. While California is subject to regular drought and heat and is thus prone to wildfires, the other two states are cooler and rainier and thus do not usually experience this level of fires. The level of fire activity in those areas is being called ‘unprecedented’.
Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee on Wednesday held a news conference after touring Bonney Lake, where the Sumner Grade Fire has burned more than 800 acres including four homes, and has forced evacuations.
Inslee previously issued a statewide emergency proclamation due to fires in eastern and central Washington. However, the fires have only gotten worse and due to recent weather conditions, around 480,000 acres have burned since Monday,
“This is an extraordinary series of events we have suffered,” Inslee said, pointing to the combination of dry grass, high temperatures and heavy winds.
The governor said the conditions have been exacerbated by the changing climate in Washington, and said he looks forward to working with people across the state to fight the cause of the fires.
When I woke yesterday this morning, I noticed that the light coming into my room had an orange tint, like you get from lights in large mall parking lots. I could not figure out what was causing it because the fires that had been burning in the area last month had been brought under control. The effect of those fires was to produce a smoky haze, not this orange light. Later my daughter in the San Francisco area said that the sky there was such a dark orange that the inside of their house looked as if it was night time the entire day.
You can see what it was like.
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge at 9:20 IN THE MORNING. pic.twitter.com/nyiY0vWxf5
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) September 9, 2020
It turns out that the reason were the massive fires that are raging in the Pacific Northwest, from southern Oregon up past Seattle.
So why were distant fires creating darkness over San Francisco and even further south where I live? The same reason that we sometimes get red skies at sunset. Dust particles in the atmosphere scatter blue light more than red light, so when the sun is low on the horizon, the light from it has to go through a thinker layer of dust to get to us and blue light gets scattered away, leaving more of the red light to go straight through.
In this case the layer of particles due to the fire have risen high in the sky so that even during the day, the sun’s rays had to go through a thicker layer of particulate matter than on a normal day.
People in the San Francisco Bay Area and across California awoke on Wednesday morning to an eerie scene of darkened, orange-hued skies and ash raining down as historic wildfires rage across the state.
The apocalyptic skies are due to light being filtered through smoke from California’s worst fire season on record, according to a regional air pollution control organization the Bay Area Air District.
“These smoke particles scatter blue light and only allow yellow-orange-red light to reach the surface, causing skies to look orange,” the Bay Area Air District said on Twitter.
Residents of the Bay Area reported oversleeping because the sky was so dark. Local police forces recommended drivers keep headlights on all day and bridges and street lights remained alight as the sun failed to appear this morning.
A friend of mine who was a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and whose job it was to study the effects of pollution on the atmosphere told me that when fires are this intense and form a thick layer of particulate matter high up in the atmosphere, this reddening effect can be seen hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Right now, the particulate have reached up to a staggering 50,000 feet, way above cruising jetliners. Distant people are baffled by what is causing the change in the sky color since there are no reports of fires near them. That was exactly the case with me and I was glad to have my morning bafflement explained away.
This article explains the phenomenon in more detail.
As a result, air quality is also terrible across the West Coast. In Washington, where I live, the skies are hazy but mostly blue. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency’s numbers indicate worse air quality than in San Francisco, where the sky is completely red. That’s likely because the air quality index is a measure of surface air quality, says Roya Bahreini, an atmospheric scientist at University of California, Riverside. “The smoke from the wildfires can get injected higher in the atmosphere,” she says. In other words: That smoke might not affect surface-level measures of air quality, but it can, of course, still blot out the sun and filter light. And according to Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist, smoke and ash are now traveling up to 50,000 feet—“20,000 above cruising altitude of jet airliners,” he wrote in a recent tweet. “Dense smoke throughout entire atmospheric column is blocking nearly all sunlight at surface.”
But of course, climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by scientists who want to continue gorging on research grans and by black transgender Marxists who want to deprive god-fearing Merkins of their precious bodily fluids.