Smoke from Western wildfires

A computer model showing a large swath of red streaming across the northern United States depicts a moderate to high concentration of smoke from wildfires on the West Coast that has traveled to New England.

Smoke from the raging wildfires on the West Coast has filtered into the sky over New Hampshire, creating a haze that dimmed Tuesday’s sunshine and was enough to keep temperatures cooler than expected.

The skies were generally cloudless, but it was hard to tell with the plumes of smoke that got caught up in the jet stream and traveled 3,000 miles to reach the Northeast.

“What’s happening is the wildfires out West are bad enough that the smoke is being projected high enough into the atmosphere. The jet stream winds aloft are strong enough to blow the smoke into New England,” said Hunter Tubbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The smoke was noticeable on Monday and lingered on Tuesday. Tubbs said it could hang around until Thursday, when a cold front is expected to arrive and possibly clear it out.

But with the deadly Western fires still burning, Tubbs said New England’s skies could continue to be affected to some degree in the days ahead. The smoke will likely only disappear when the weather pattern changes or the fires are brought under control, he said.

Last year, smoke from wildfires in western Canada made its way to New England.

It’s not uncommon to see smoke here from wildfires so far away, but Tubbs said, “It’s definitely not something that happens every year.”

Because some of the sun’s shortwave radiation was unable to reach the Earth’s surface through the smoke, Tubbs said it created a cooling effect that lowered temperatures during the day a degree or two.

Ocean watch

The smoke wasn’t expected to create any air quality issues in New Hampshire.

While the smoke caught their attention, forecasters are also keeping an eye on the surf along the Seacoast.

High astronomical tides are expected through the week, which the weather service said could result in high surf, dangerous swimming and surfing conditions, some localized beach erosion, and isolated areas of splash-over during high tide.

Thursday, September 17, 2020
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020