First Alert Weather In-Depth: Smoke of a distant fire

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The next couple of days I will be reporting some of the different types of optics we can find in the atmosphere. Today it makes sense to talk about the haze which has reduced visibility across Western New York. 

Did you notice the milky nature of the sky?  At times that haze was transferred to the surface with visibility reduced to six or seven miles (usually on a clear day the Rochester Airport has a maximum visibility of 10 miles).  So why is this happening?

It is wildfires that are located 250 to 300 miles to the north of us, near Quebec, Canada. At least 160 separate fires are burning and many are still out-of-control. The impact for Rochester really comes down to the wind direction. A northerly wind is directing that smoke towards WNY and the smoky concentration is not just in the upper atmosphere, but also in the lower layers of the atmosphere. As a result, the New York State Department of Health is concerned about the higher levels of particulate matter that have been measured today. When pollution levels reach this level NYSDOH recommends that folks consider limiting outdoor activity. People that should be most concerned are older individuals and the very young – especially if you have any respiratory problems. 

Looking to the future, one of our surface smoke products gives us a forecast of how long this will last over the next 24 to 48 hours. Based on that modeling, the News 10NBC First Alert meteorologists expect this smoke will slowly begin to reduce and improve by Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening. And for all of us it will be a welcome breath of fresh air.