Wildfire smoke paints the Nebraska sky red

Did you wake up this morning to a bright red sunrise and wonder why it was red? Well, you aren’t alone! The answer is actually pretty simple, wildfire smoke.

Several wildfires are burning across the Pacific Northwest and Canada currently which means a lot of smoke is being produced. This smoke gets transported around the globe depending on how the wind is blowing. The jet stream, a narrow river of strong winds high up in the atmosphere, is currently bringing the smoke out of the northwest and directly into Nebraska. Here is a look at the Pacific Northwest wildfires as well as the current setup of the jet stream.

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Smoke plays with light in the atmosphere and enhances the amount of scattering that takes place. The sky normally appears blue because the color blue is made of short wavelengths that get scattered around more than the other colors of the rainbow. When you throw in smoke particles that scatter more light, it results in a hazy appearance during the day.

During sunrise/sunset the scattering process gets enhanced even further. Due to the sun’s low position in the sky, we see a lot more scattering thanks to the longer distance the light has to travel. The longer the distance, the more scattering takes place and thus the more colors we see. The longer wavelength colors like yellow, orange and red usually are the most prominent during this time. But adding smoke to the mix, mainly leaves red because the other colors get scattered away thanks to all the extra scattering. Below is an example of the bright red that we saw this morning.

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Did you snap a photo of the sunrise this morning? Well, we would love to see it! Send it to us by going to the top of our website and clicking on the Submit News tab.

Meteorologist Brittany Foster





Categories: News