First Alert Weather in Depth: If you do not like the smoke, you should be an ‘afternoon person’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — News10NBC gives you a lot of numbers and measurements when we are trying to describe the amount of smoke and pollutants in the atmosphere. However, the last few days you can use your own eyes to see the amount of smoke Rochester has had to contend with.

The last two days there has been a big difference in the amount of smoke from the morning hours to the afternoon hours. And a cross-sectional view of the atmosphere is probably be the best way to describe why this phenomenon is happening.

On a typical day we enjoy warmer air at the surface and then air then begins to rise through the atmosphere. As a result, this set-up brings significant amounts of vertical mixing through the atmosphere. But quite often, especially during the early morning, we get a warm inversion to the atmosphere. This is when the reverse is true.

Cool air then found at the bottom of the atmosphere, but noticeably warmer air is located at the top. In meteorological terms — this is called an inversion. This inversion is usually located at altitude of just a few thousand feet. Because of this temperature structure, this inversion blocks the air from mixing.

In other words, if we have a parcel of air such as a hot air balloon, once it reaches the inversion it will stop rising. That is what has been happening the last two days. The smoke is more concentrated in the morning, but by the afternoon conditions begin to improve.

The News10NBC’s First Alert Meteorologists think of the atmosphere in a three dimensional view. It is not just the horizontally perspective, but also the vertical which has an impact on the amount of smoke.