Canadian wildfire smoke drifts into Alabama Wednesday

The Weather Authority
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There was barely a cloud in the sky Wednesday, but something else was there that kept us from seeing true deep blue skies: Canadian wildfire smoke. Yes, the exact same northerly wind that gave us our refreshingly cool morning also brought us smoke particles from nearly 2,000 miles away!

The way it happens is simple: all of the smoke billowing up from the fires gets caught by the upper-level wind flow of the atmosphere, which carries it south and east into the United States. The set-up we find ourselves under this week, with high pressure to the west, guides the smoke into Alabama.

The reason smoke alters our sky color is simple too: smoke particles scatter sunlight differently from the particles normally found in our atmosphere. Smoke particles scatter more white light, while ‘normal’ air particles scatter more blue light. More of the white light creates a duller blue color in our skies.

While smoke can cause hazy skies during the day, it can also cause more ‘fiery’ skies at sunset. You can see the more orange-red tinted sky well in this photo taken by Kenny Duckett in Huntsville:

(Image: Kenny Duckett)

The thin layer of smoke over North Alabama won’t linger over us for long. By Friday our winds will have shifted and some isolated storm chances will bubble up. Both of those things – a change in winds and higher rain chances – will help scour our air of lingering smoke particles.

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