Weather or Not: Traveling smoke from California wildfires

Traveling Wildfire Smoke
Updated: Aug. 13, 2018 at 11:46 AM CDT
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(KSLA) - Wildfires continue to burn in California and it's not just affecting the Golden State. Smoke from the wildfires has been traveling across the United States and some has even planted as far as New York.

How can this smoke travel so far? It all has to do with the jet stream.

As wildfires continue to burn, more and more smoke is deposited into the atmosphere. These fires are so large that the smoke is reaching the upper levels. This is when it reaches the jet stream.

Now, the jet stream is a large fast flowing air current that sits between 30-50,000 feet above the surface. The smoke is picked up by this moving air and follows the path. Some of the dust is caught in the areas with lower pressure along the path of the jet stream. In this case, it is over the Great Lakes Region and some even traveled to the state of New York.

The good news is that this dust is staying high above the surface as it travels. In some areas where the smoke is thicker in the upper levels, you can see it at the ground. Some areas where the smoke is thicker is impacting air quality. This can impact people with asthma and respiratory problems.

In this image, you can see the thick plume of smoke traveling in the upper levels.

(Credit: NOAA)

You can compare it to this image where not as much is making its way down to the surface.

(Credit: NOAA)

Smoke can be seen from satellite images high above the Earth's surface as well.

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