Haze and brilliant orange in the sky brought on by western wildfires


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — You may have noticed something in the sky lately that looks both beautiful and even a bit eerie at the same time.

It’s the bright, orange color of the sun and the moon, caused by wildfires raging in the western U.S. and Canada.

Sky conditions in Pennsylvania are being impacted from something thousands of miles away.

It may seem hard to believe but those west coast and Canadian wildfires are impacting us locally from hazy skies to those beautiful sunsets and moon rises to even the particles of air we’re breathing.

Check out a sampling of photos shared with Eyewitness News capturing the brilliant orange sun that burned Tuesday over northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

As the sun pierced through a milky, hazy sky, some might say it looked a bit apocalyptic, but not to Taryn Wintermantel, an Olyphant resident.

“We saw an orange sun that I though was really pretty and I mentioned it to my husband, and he said it’s from the wildfires,” Wintermantel said.

The wildfires, including the massive Bootleg fire in Oregon, are blazing in more than a dozen states, sending plumes of smoke thousands of feet into the atmosphere. The smoke actually shows up on satellite imagery.

“It’s not something you see every day,” Meteorologist Logan Westrope said.

Or night for that matter, according to Westrope. While the moon or sun near the horizon typically tends to look reddish through more of the earth’s air, the wildfire ash takes that moon or sun glow to the next level over Pennsylvania skies.

To do that, those particles had to do a nearly 3,000 mile cross-country trip.

“With the jet stream, the way that it’s positioned kind of transported that smoke right into our area. We kind of have a trough in our area over the mid Atlantic north and east that we’ve had kind of for the past few days,” stated Westrope.

West coast smoke has made its way to the east coast other times- most notably during the 1980 Mount Saint Helens eruption in Washington state. Susan Wzorek, an Olyphant resident, remembers it well.

“It was unbelievable because you don’t think about the west coast coming all the way across to the east coast and we were totally fog covered and we had a lot then. I remember that, too,” Wzorek said.

The smoke particles can be harmful to the ozone and your respiratory health until something breaks up the stagnant weather pattern.

“A cold front, a warm front… That usually kind of sweeps it out of here and then we tend to see improving conditions with that,” Westrope said.

Since wildfires out west seem to be more common than ever, it probably won’t be much longer before we see our next instance of smoke making its way to the east coast.

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