Smoking Hot Out West – Smoky Skies for Us

Sunday, Sept. 3rd, Monday, Sept. 4th (Labor Day) and Tuesday, Sept. 5th:


Sunrise Labor Day at Wells Overlook just south of Lawrence.  The sun is seen shining through multiple layers of smoke aloft at 7:00 AM.  These smoke layers aloft have been over the area for several days, but became more concentrated on Labor Day as an upper wave and cold front approached the area.


Zooming more at 7:02 AM, the smoke makes an excellent sun filter.  Here a couple of sunspots can even be seen, one near the center of the sun and the other about a third of the way from the center toward the right limb.


At 7:39 AM at the Sunflower Farm just east of Wells Overlook – eclipsing clouds produce crepuscular rays through the smoke aloft.


At 6:59 PM yesterday at the Rotary Arboretum, the smoke aloft is really dense just behind a cool front.


As the sun was sinking toward the horizon it disappeared, completely covered by the dense smoke.  Then, surprisingly, just before sinking below the horizon, a very dim sun made a last  reappearance for the day.  As in the morning, it looks like a different kind of star through the dense smoke layers – or maybe even a distant gas giant planet.


National visual satellite image at 9:45 AM CDT Labor Day.  Smoke is in the flow pushing in from the Pacific Northwest, more concentrated behind an approaching front over Nebraska and South Dakota.  The remnants of once hurricane Lidia are off the California coast.


At 5:45 PM Labor Day, the front has passed the Lawrence area (thin line of clouds across southeast Kansas marks the front) with dense smoke aloft over our area.  The smoke extends from the Pacific Northwest all the way into the Northeast.


Upper air chart (500 MB) at 7 PM on September 2nd.  This ongoing pattern shows the flow, bringing smoke from fires from California to Washington to Western Montana over our area.  On this day, the easterly flow between a strong upper High centered over southern Idaho and Tropical Depression off of Northern Baja brought record heat to much of California, especially the San Francisco Bay area where San Francisco reached 104 degrees and parts of the bay area reached temperatures of 110 and even more in a few spots.  The heat was widespread in the west, enhancing widespread and growing wildfires.


Sept 2nd at 7:45 PM CDT (5:45 PDT) – Huge amount of wildfire smoke from the Sierra Nevada drifts westward and northwestward out over the Central Valley.  There are additional fires in northwest California with a huge amount of smoke drifting northward.   A couple of plumes in western Nevada as well.


On September 2nd at 8:15 PM CDT (6:15 PM PDT) – Very dense smoke moves northward over northern California and western Oregon, before later rounding the corner and heading eastward.   Additional large and active wildfires can be seen over central Washington, Idaho and western Montana.  All this smoke then heads eastward over our area and on across the country in layers of varying density aloft as it gets caught and swirls around in the upper level winds.


The smoke has been blowing over aloft for several days now.  This is the pre-sunrise sky from outside my front door on August 30, showing a solid layer of smoke aloft over the area.


From the Yosemite National Park webcams – this is the view of Half Dome and Clouds Rest from Sentinal Dome the morning of September 3rd.  Dense smoke at about 8,500 feet above sea-level.


At the same time as the above image, Half Dome from Yosemite Valley (4,100 feet) is, as usual, striking, and actually somewhat more clear than from higher up.   While there is smoke in the air, it is not nearly as dense on the Yosemite Valley floor as it is at higher elevations.   This smoke originates from fires over the nearby central Sierra Nevada Mountains.


September 5th at 6:30 AM looking east-northeastward from the north end of  N Iowa Street where it turns west to Lakeview Rd.  The north edge of the dense smoke layer aloft is seen pushing southward on northerly winds aloft.


500 MB at 7 AM Sept 5:  Unseasonably strong northwest flow aloft behind a trough of low pressure extending southward from the Great Lakes pushes the smoke plume southward.   Hot upper high continues over the intermountain west with the remnants of Lidia off the California coast pumping some mid level moisture northward along the Pacific coast.


September 5th at 4:45 PM CDT – Smoke layer has pushed southward with the plume extending across Wyoming, Colorado, southwest Kansas into Oklahoma and Arkansas.   Lots of smoke covers Oregon, Washington and Idaho.  South winds around the remnants of Lidia have helped clear much of the smoke from California for the time being.


Looking west at sunset, Tuesday, Sept 5th:  Skies appear clear of smoke for the first time in days as cooler and drier air pushes in from the northwest.  A few instability cumulous in the afternoon have pretty much died out with mainly just some patchy cirrus in the far off distance.


And a full moon rises in the eastern sky.

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