Fires in Oregon, Washington, San Fransico, and other western states have caused the skies to be blood red giving off an apocalyptic glow across the Pacific states.
A Youtube video of a drone shows footage depicting areas destroyed by the fires with a red sky in San Francisco Bay, California.
Another picture shows Oregon with a similar red tint in its skies hazy from the fires and smoke.
This is a Salem, Oregon. The picture was not photoshopped. #wildfires
Many are comparing the skies to the planet Mars, as thousands upon thousands of firefighters work to fight the thousands of fires, CBS News reported.
— Neil Abrew (@neilbrewski) September 9, 2020
Parts of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah are currently under critical and elevated risk according to the National Weather Service. Air quality in some regions has even reached hazardous levels.
The New York Times reported on the fires, too:
“In Oregon, thousands of people have evacuated their homes. In Washington State, a fire hit the town of Malden so quickly that deputies drove through the streets screaming for residents to leave. In Colorado, a 100,000-acre blaze was slowed only by a rare September snowstorm.
And in California, residents are coping with the worst wildfires on record. Smoke blotted out the sun yesterday in San Francisco, and ash fluttered down from the sky. ‘The sky had a faint orange glow that some said evoked a nuclear winter,’ Thomas Fuller, The Times’s San Francisco bureau chief, told us. Jill Cowan, a Times reporter in Los Angeles, said, ‘The smoke and the poor air quality are just oppressive.”
According to NASA, the skies painted with a tint of red are a result of smoke particles, which block certain wavelength colors from the sun.
“The smoke particles from the fires allow sunlight’s longer-wavelength colors like red and orange to get through while blocking the shorter wavelengths of yellow, blue and green,” NASA said. “Those longer wavelengths give the sky a red or orange tinted appearance. Similarly, during sunrise and sunset times when the sun is near the horizon, sunlight has to travel through more of Earth’s atmosphere to get to you. The additional atmosphere filters out the shorter wavelengths and allows the longer wavelengths to get through, providing reds and oranges during those times.”
A regional air pollution control organization the Bay Area Air District. collaborated NASA’s claims stating that the apocalyptic skies are due to light being filtered through smoke from California’s worst fire season on record.
The orange skies this morning are a result of wildfire smoke in the air. Strong winds over the past few days transported ash from fires in northern California and the Sierra Nevada into the region. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/IGFVDgGLpC
— Bay Area Air Quality (@AirDistrict) September 9, 2020
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, shared a video on Twitter that shows what he guesses to be a “smoke cyclone.”
Swain called it “a meteorological feature I don’t think I’ve seen before.”
A meteorological feature I don't think I've seen before–a "smoke cyclone?" Looks like a mid-level low pressure swirl over North Coast–entirely encircled by dense smoke! Plus, bit of shallow convection atop smoke layer to south? Hmmm… cc @nplareau @NWSBayArea @NickyNaus #CAwx pic.twitter.com/QANlM2f2cx
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) September 10, 2020
Air quality warnings were issued throughout the Pacific Northwest in several states, and people in communities from southern Oregon to the north of Seattle have experienced choking smoke. However, despite the warnings, the actual quality of the air close to the ground in California was measured to be “good” on Wednesday. That’s because high winds are keeping the smoke at a high altitude of around 2,000 to 4,000ft above ground, according to the National Weather Service, preventing smoke from settling at the surface.
Wildfires have already burned a record 2.3 million acres in the state of California, making this wildfire season the most severe in modern history. Several other areas, including Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, also continue to experience uncontrollable blazes. According to data from the National Fire Interagency Center in an update posted on September 10th, there are currently, 102 large fires that have burned 4.4 million acres of land in 12 states. More than 26,000 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents throughout the country. Unprecedented weather conditions have created emergency situations near wildfires throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and other states. Almost half of the large fires reported today to have evacuation orders in place. For a full list of large fires see the National Fire Interagency website here.
The fires are fueled by dry vegetation and unusually high summer temperatures — both seeming effects of climate change — the fires have destroyed homes and forced evacuations in several states thus far. According to reports so far the fires have resulted in at least a dozen deaths at the time of this report.