That comment came from a friend on my Facebook page. And it’s not just there, unfortunately. For those of you who live in the northern, and parts of the central and eastern U.S., you know the drill: blue skies aren’t anywhere to be found. I’m not talking about a lack of clouds. I’m talking about the massive forest fires going on in early July across Alaska and Canada, causing skies to go milky white and block out the sun as far south as Tennessee.
Some think this pattern might be El Nino related, but in any event, the jet stream orientation in June and so far in July has taken a route from central Canada, southeastward into the northern and northeastern U.S. That has been responsible for cool to unseasonably cool temperatures in the Great Lakes. However, it’s also sent the smoke with it down into the U.S. as well. In part, the dense smoke is also blocking a significant to substantial part of the sunlight from getting through. Here where I live in the Chicago area, on one particular afternoon, it was like a dense cirrus cloud overcast was covering the sun. In reality, it was smoke, as high as 18,000’…getting into the jet stream and pushing southeastward into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valleys, as well as parts of the northeastern U.S.
Lightning-induced fires from “dry” thunderstorms (whereby the rain evaporates before hitting the ground, but the lightning does, igniting the fires) continues to plague southwest Canada as their monsoon season begins. It does not look like this will end soon, as the general jet stream pattern is expected to remain the same.
MODIS imagery, now available on AllisonHouse Maps, shows the smoke incredibly well. You can clearly see, in areas that are cloud-free, the source of the smoke, and its track southeastward into the northern U.S. Thanks to mixing, that smoke is coming back down to the ground across Wisconsin and Illinois, resulting in poor air quality and numerous alerts to those who are prone to allergies or irritation. Even though that is not a good thing, obviously…it isn’t anywhere as bad as Canada and Alaska, where people are losing their homes. At times, visibilities have been reduced to less than 5 miles in some areas of the Great Lakes. We here at AllisonHouse pray for a swift end to these fires, and strength and comfort to the firefighters, and residents in Canada and Alaska affected by them.