Western wildfire smoke in Michigan
September 14, 2020
Wildfire smoke from fires in California, Colorado, and Utah can be seen affecting the Great Lakes states on visible satellite imagery. Smoke plumes can be seen separately from the California and Utah/Colorado wildfires. The smoke is currently several thousands of feet above the ground and is carried by jet stream winds currently at approximately 60 mph. Because of their high altitude there is currently no smoke smell at the surface, but the smoke is thick enough to reduce the sunlight at the surface by about 30%. These smoke plumes cause sunlight to scatter in the atmosphere and will preferentially filter out the blue part of the visible light spectrum. This filtering should create beautiful orange and red sunsets. Normally, the color change is seen in the solar disk as it is setting, but the smoke should cause the entire sky near the setting and rising sun to change color.