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Sunset as unusual as sunrise due to smoke from western fires

Hazy sunset over the Tobin Bridge

Matt Frank captured tonight's surreal sunset over the Mystic and the Tobin Bridge.

He wasn't the only one watching the sunset this evening:

Earlier:
A hazy start to the day due to wildfires in western Canada and US.

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Comments

I noticed the moon tonight was a very unusual orange as well. Possibly for the same reason?

Yes, it was also under the same filter. It might have also been easier to photograph due to the dimming nature of the extra layer.

The moon is affected by the same things as the sun in the sky but at a more extreme case since it's just a reflection of the sun. If you look up today you'll see the sun is a giant splotch in the sky because of the smoke scattering the light

Even the moon was surreal tonight. High up in the sky on a relatively cloudless night, but deep orange as if it were right on the horizon. Was kind of beautiful in a way, until the reason why sank in.

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This is hard on people and animals with respiratory issues and even those without. Bad enough with just regular air pollution and humidity.

It doesn't impact our air quality much at all - it isn't ground level pollution. This is circulating at much higher altitudes than can affect what we are breathing in any meaningful way. More like a volcanic eruption - you get ash in the region, but no ash falls thousands of miles away.

I don't know if you were around when wildfires in Northern New England and Quebec sent us smoke that was swirling at ground level - that's a regional effect. That did mess up our air quality pretty badly. By the time that smoke got to Europe it was just red sunsets and no difference in PM2.5 (I have pictures of both that I took to stick on reports and slide sets when I worked at an air pollution NGO).

What has impacted our local airshed: some jackass with a giant thing on a truck going off piste without a flag car and wiping out a bridge.

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If you look at the air monitors the quality took a major dive as the smoke built up. It was supposed to stay in the air but quite a bit dropped into our space. I could tell even on foot, the humidity was lower than it has been last night but visibility was horrible. My focus on the camera was freaking out and normally it can cut right through fog.

The monitors went from green to red , with some yellow for the ones near the water.

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Thanks. I didn’t know that.
I assumed because the air quality indicator on my weather app said it was low in my neighborhood that that was due to the smoke from up north. Must be the usual offenders bringing it down.
I really really really wish more people would use public transport or bikes, etc. And that new construction had to meet stronger restrictions on environmental building standards.

I looked into the usual lay-friendly (airnow.gov) and academic sources and OMG. I've been working with these things for nearly two decades and cannot tell you how terrifying that is.

It isn't like those regional impacts with swirling campfire-scented smoke when Quebec caught fire, but these (mid JULY!!!) wildfires are so massive that their smoke is infiltrating lower level air masses at long distances and impacting our ground level PM2.5.

However, when Quebec had a weenie roast we had >300mcg/m3 PM2.5 levels when they shut the compliance monitors down - this is maybe contributing 10 to 15 mcg/m3 to our breathing zone to push to totals to 25.

That's a new one on me and underscores just how extreme the fire situation is.

Our "normal" PM.2.5 excursions this time of year are of similar magnitude and usually associated with hot air masses picking up industrial and transportation emissions over OH/WV/PA/NY and blowing them into our region. There does seem to be a fair amount of that happening too if you watch the jet stream.

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I found breathing much more difficult yesterday. For those of us with respiratory problems, the amount that does reach ground level makes a difference. There was an air quality warning yesterday for particulates, telling vulnerable individuals to stay indoors and avoid exertion.

Of course it's much worse for those in the areas where the fires are occurring. I have many friends along the West Coast and feel for everyone out there.

Note that these values are at the high end of expected for the wind pattern and season even without the wildfires.

But the wildfires appear to be pushing them up about 10 microgram/m3. It doesn't help.

Having fled a wildfire in my preschool years, the smoke always freaks me the fuck out and that doesn't help my asthma, either. Knowing that it is actually contributing to exposure, even if it is moderately elevating typical levels, means that it is probably time to grab the inhaler rather than the meditation app.

You are right I was tracking all the local sensors for the past week and if you go to fire.airnow.gov you can track individual sensors. The entire region saw a massive spike from 3pm to 3am or so and the sensors that could tell were declaring it was smoke. Humidity levels were also pretty low too which is often a contributing factor. The smoke got pushed down for that period.

It was especially clear to me and others on the ground because I could see it. Visibility was low yet the air was dry and warm. I've lived in Chelsea my whole life and was a boy scout do have a pretty decent feel for air and this was much more online with being downwind from a triple decker fire than being in the jungle. I was out in the mist for a photo session and everything was wet, I couldn't keep my windshield from misting up but last night it was no problem.

They say the storms are going to help clear stuff out by the end of the day and the weekend but I'm looking at this smoke map and I'm not so sure.