Smoke blown from wildfires in California and Oregon gave a hazy tinge to the skies over Maine, but was far too high ― at about 33,000 feet ― to adversely affect air quality on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Michael Clair, a meteorologist with the weather service in southern Maine, said the sky had a milky-gray tinge to it for most of Tuesday, giving the sun a slightly faded look. People emailed the NWS-Gray office pictures of the sky and asked if the state’s air quality suffered as a result of the smoke, Clair said.
One shot, from Brunswick, shows a clear outline of the sun surrounded by a pinkish hue.
“It almost gives the appearance of a higher cloud layer but it’s actually a smoke layer that has been transported by winds aloft,” said Tim Duda, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Caribou.
The smoke might have a less noticeable impact, possibly lowering temperatures on Tuesday by a handful of degrees by absorbing radiation from the sun, Clair said.
Maine skies have been colored by smoke from faraway forest fires before. It happens once or twice a year, but typically from burning forests in Quebec or Ontario, not California or Oregon, Duda said.
The northerly winds that usually carry that smoke will replace the western jetstream winds that have carried the smoke from the west coast by Thursday afternoon, so the haze will likely linger over the Maine landscape for another few days before dissipating by Thursday night, Clair said.