Smoke from raging wildfires in western Canada has reached Chicago, creating hazy skies and making for redder sunrises and sunsets.
The effects were initally limited to the upper levels of the atmosphere in Chicago, but by Friday the smoke was expected to reach lower levels and leave a burning smell, according to the National Weather Service.
It's possible, meteorologists said, that the smoke could linger into next week.
Wildfire smoke from Canada will stream through our area today behind the rain showers, reducing visibility and leading to a burning smell outdoors. Consider limiting outdoor activities if you have respiratory problems. #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/ohECimSctm
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) May 19, 2023
Nearly 1.3 million acres have burned in an uncommonly active fire season in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, which have been in the grips of heatwave. A lack of rain has worsened the situation.
Satellites have tracked the plume of smoke across the northern U.S.
Rapid Refresh (RAP) model forecast vertically integrated smoke (run valid 10AM CT today (Tue 5/16) to 1PM CT Thu 5/18). Forecast shows narrow layer of smoke arriving later today, lull Wed AM, & then a more substantial region of smoke Wed PM thru Thu 5/18. #ILwx #INwx (2/3) pic.twitter.com/UXz7noKocg
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) May 16, 2023
Why does the smoke make for redder skies? Here's an excellent explanation.
You may notice that the sunset looks more red/orange than usual this evening.
This is because the smoke is only allowing for red and orange wavelengths of light to pass through it.
— NWS Sioux Falls (@NWSSiouxFalls) May 17, 2023
This article originally published on May 17. It has been updated with new forecast information.