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Smoke From California Wildfires Creates Haze Over NYC

A climate specialist at Columbia University says smoke reaching this far east is unusual while forecasters say haze should move out soon.

By Jeff Arnold , Patch Staff
Sep 16, 2020 12:41 p m ET | Updated Sep 16, 2020 8:10 p m ET

NEW YORK CITY — As the damaging West Coast wildfires continue to burn more than 2,500 miles away, the impact of the blazes has reached New York and points east in the form of smoke high above the ground level that has created a haze over the city this week.

While local weather officials forecast that the smoke won’t impact air quality, it has and will continue to affect the color of the sky and has created a bright orange tinge to the sun. According to the National Weather Service, satellites show the smoke to be at between 20,000 and 30,000 feet above the surface.

The smoke has continued to travel east thanks to jet-stream winds, which, according to reports, is a ribbon of air located anywhere from 4-8 miles above land that can move as quickly as 275 miles per hour.

Have you noticed the haze? It’s smoke from the wild fires out west that has made its way across the U.S. A cold front will push the smokey haze out of NYC on Friday. pic.twitter.com/PKUVJ73TEP
— Erick Adame (@ErickAdameOnTV) September 15, 2020

According to Dr. Robert Field, a climate specialist at Columbia University, long-range smoke events take place a couple of times a year and depend heavily on weather patterns. Earlier this summer for instance, a similar event took place around the Arctic due to fires in Siberia. However, the noticeable haze this occurred this week in New York City is considered to be unusual.

“The smoke often extends into the midwest, but rarely travels so far east,” Field wrote in an email to Patch on Wednesday, citing the number of fires currently burning in California, Oregon and Washington as the reason for the distance smoke has extended east.

As far as the color of he sun locals may have witnessed this week, Field said that smoke particles are scattering more of the blue light, so what results is an extra-orange sun, but dimmer by the overall effect of the smoke.

Michael Souza, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the New York Times this week that a perfect recipe of weather conditions, including the jet stream, which has made its way east from the Great Lakes.

Although the skies haven’t changed the deep shade of red-orange that have hidden the sun from residents of Northern California, the impact of the smoke has been visibly evident across New York and locations as far east as Washington.

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If you looked up to the sky today, you may have seen a yellow or brown tinge. You were seeing smoke from the fires out W. This GOES-16 visible satellite shows smoke at 25,000 ft, as well as active fires and the busy tropics. We took a photo at our office to show the smoky sky. pic.twitter.com/tAgfomjNNC
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) September 15, 2020

Forecasters from New York Metro Weather told Patch on Wednesday that the hazy skies likely will remain in New York through Thursday night, when a cold front is expected to sweep it out of the area.

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Smoke From California Wildfires Creates Haze Over NYC – New York City, NY – A climate specialist at Columbia University says smoke reaching this far east is unusual while forecasters say haze should move out soon.

Smokey Haze From Unprecedented West Coast Fires Sweeps Over NYC Skies

Advancing plumes of smoke from the record fires ripping through much of the West Coast have now arrived in New York City — blanketing the sky with a milky haze that’s expected to last for several days.

The swath of smoke swept eastward this week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first becoming noticeable in New York on Monday. Meteorologists expect the graying effect to be even more pronounced on Tuesday, remaining present until the smoke is eventually pushed off the coast by a cold front on Friday.

That’s exactly what it is! In fact, smoke is expected to be even more noticeable tomorrow. You can see the smoke on satellite —> pic.twitter.com/73erjttVXN

Explains Coney Island’s sunset last night.

Can’t believe smoke from the wild fires in California reached all the way to #NYC 😞 https://t.co/yoEdoYXxlf pic.twitter.com/SC0ngWmDwv

just realized the weird ass sun you could stare directly at in #nyc today was caused by the smoke from the west coast fires pic.twitter.com/NckMOSleVB

According to New York Metro Weather, the smoke will travel between 15,000 and 20,000 feet overhead, meaning that ground-level air quality will not be impacted.

The National Weather Service’s New York office described the overhead sky’s “yellow or brown tinge,” reiterating that smoke will not pose a threat to air quality.

If you looked up to the sky today, you may have seen a yellow or brown tinge. You were seeing smoke from the fires out W. This GOES-16 visible satellite shows smoke at 25,000 ft, as well as active fires and the busy tropics. We took a photo at our office to show the smoky sky. pic.twitter.com/tAgfomjNNC

Widespread haze is likely today in NYC, as a plume of wildfire smoke from Western US wildfires moves overhead. The smoke will remain elevated between 15,000 and 20,000 feet above our heads, as visualized by this vertical cross section. pic.twitter.com/ZTmJYfOymw

Huge clouds of smoke have smothered parts of California and the Pacific Northwest for weeks now, forcing residents to stay inside while preventing hazardous air from seeping into their homes.

Experts describe the extreme fires and smoke conditions as an unprecedented event fueled by the climate crisis, and a “dark precursor of a future without steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Washington Post.

“The shear amount of fire on the landscape is surreal,” Nick Nauslar, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho told the outlet. “No one I have talked to can remember anything like it.”

In other residual local impacts from the churning climate crisis, authorities are warning of high surf and dangerous rip currents on New York City and Long Island beaches this weekend as a result of Hurricane Paulette — one of five tropical cyclones currently active in the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s only the second time on record that this many tropical cyclone systems have been active simultaneously in the ocean.

The smoke will travel between 15,000 and 20,000 feet overhead, meaning that ground-level air quality will not be impacted.