Russian smoke invades North America

Wildfire Today contacted the National Weather Service and asked if the massive amount of smoke generated by the wildfires in Russia is drifting across North America. They pointed us toward this narrative of smoke observed in satellite imagery on August 3, 2010. Here is an excerpt:

…Some of this smoke [in Alaska and northwestern Canada] was likely due to fires scattered across central and east central Alaska as well as northwestern Canada. However, it is possible that smoke from the fires in Russia was also being transported across the Arctic into this region. Another band of smoke which is likely from the Russian fires was seen in visible satellite imagery this evening through breaks in the clouds moving to the northeast across the Pacific between 44N170W and 49N161W. The smoke may extend even farther to the northeast, but cloudiness prevented additional information from satellite imagery.

A meteorologist also told us:

Based on the amount of smoke being produced by the Russian fires and at least this one occurrence [on August 3] of smoke being tracked across the eastern Pacific, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that some amount of smoke from Russia has made its way into North America. Unfortunately, cloudiness frequently interferes with the tracking of smoke and low stratus clouds are common across the eastern Pacific. If smoke from Russia is being transported into Canada and is obscured by cloudiness, we cannot verify where the smoke came from once it has arrived there especially with so many fires in Canada also producing copious amounts of smoke.

smoke map
NOAA map of smoke detected through satellite imagery, Aug. 9, 2010

And, if you are hungry for even more details, check out this very technical PowerPoint presentation about the Russian smoke. Clicking that link will download a copy of the file, possibly in a new window, depending on your browser.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.