The past couple of days residents of Jackson County may have noticed that our sunsets have been more red and vibrant than usual. You also may have noticed that if you looked up in the sky it looked almost hazy and dusty way up in the atmosphere.
You can see the haze and what almost looks like smoke or dust high up in the atmosphere. Turns out, that is exactly what it is over our area...smoke. Smoke from the Western wildfires has made its way over into and above our communities over the past couple of days.
The smoke moved east as large wildfires, fanned by extreme heat and drought, burned in several states including California and Oregon, according to the National Weather Service. The wildfires had burned some 1.29 million acres (2,021 square miles) in 13 states, federal authorities reported on July 20.
This smoke way up in the atmosphere doesn't just provide a hazy look during the day, but also brings some very vibrant and red sunsets along with it. Why this is you may ask? Smoke particles are much larger than just regular air molecules and are better at scattering the yellow, red and orange wavelengths of sunlight. The enhanced oranges, reds and pinks during sunset occur when the sun’s rays have to travel through more smoke. That happens when the sun is very low near the horizon rather than when it is directly overhead, hence the fiery sunsets. The added smoke particles scatter out the blue and violet light even more, bringing out more of the red light. The more smoke particles there are, then the more red the sun will appear. This is why our sunsets and sunrises have been so vibrant over the past few days.