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Orange glow turns dark and gray in Bay Area as wildfires rage

The air around the Bay Area looked better Thursday morning, as a strange orange glow that blanketed the region a day earlier sky gave way to a more typical dark and gray overcast.

Looks can be deceiving.

“The sky may not be as orange as it was,” National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Gass said. “But the quality is going to worse than it looks.”



Air quality readings reflected that reality by 5 a.m. the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s official readings showed Sebastopol, San Francisco, Berkeley, and West Oakland with levels above 150, meaning the air was unhealthy for everyone. East Oakland, San Pablo, San Rafael, Vallejo, and Redwood City all had figures higher than 100, meaning the it was unhealthy for those with breathing or other underlying conditions.

Gass said a marine layer that rested between the smoke and the ground on Wednesday has become thicker, and is starting to mix with the smoke particles that were above it. Unlike Wednesday, when only large chunks of ash made it through the layer in heavy amounts, fine particular matter is being gathered by the marine layer.

“It gets mixed in and brought closer to the surface,” Gass said. “That’s what being reflected in the air readings.”

The smoke has accumulated from 28 fires burning in the state, as well as from fires in Oregon, Gass said. It is extended about 100 miles over the Pacific Ocean, and stretches through the entire state, he said.

That smoke helped to keep temperatures lower than expected on Wednesday, and the same thing may happen Thursday, he said.

“Our forecast is for the middle 70s in the hottest areas,” Gass said. “But there’s a chance that the smoke accumulation could keep those temperatures in the upper 60s.”

Forecasters are keeping their eye on that a westerly flow of wind and cool air that could develop Friday and extend into the weekend and bring a bit of relief.

“If that occurs, it will shift the smoke east and away from the coastal areas,” Gass said. “So we should see some improvement.”


Source: Orange County Register

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