If the sky seemed a bit darker to you on Friday compared to a normal sunny day, you'd be correct! The Quad Cities is currently under a thick blanket of smoke that originated from Canada!
Numerous wildfires are currently burning across several Canadian provinces blanketing much of the United States in a thick blanket of smoke. Deteriorating air quality is becoming an issue in the Twin Cities, where Air Quality Alerts have been issued and people with sensitive respiratory systems are being asked to stay indoors.
How did the smoke get clear down here to us right here in the Quad Cities? We have the jet stream to thank for that. The strong winds aloft can carry the smoke for thousands of miles quite easily. Because we've transitioned from a southwest flow aloft, to a northwest flow, this smoke was easily able to travel thousands of miles across the upper Midwest. Because we'll remain locked in this pattern for a few days, it's like the smoky skies will last into the beginning of next week.
Believe it or not, this smoke can actually have impacts on our weather pattern right here in the Quad Cities. For one, the smoke acts to limit some of the sun's incoming solar radiation, meaning our temperatures during the day will actually be a few degrees cooler compared to a clear blue sky. It can also help limit and suppress thunderstorm development by preventing higher levels of instability from forming. Of course, it can also have health effects, too. Anyone with sensitive respiratory systems will certainly have some issues, especially at night as some of this smoke can be trapped underneath an inversion, or layer of warm air just above the surface.
The real only benefit this smoke gives us is the opportunity to catch some phenomenal sunrises and sunsets. The orange coloring should be quite the scene around here for the next few days, as long as we keep the clouds away.
Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke