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Wildfire smoke blankets North American skies

A map of the U.S. and Canada, covered by orange and black representing wildfire smoke.
This map shows the concentration of black carbon particulates – commonly called soot – over North America on July 21, 2021. The black carbon data come from the GEOS forward processing model, which assimilates data from satellite, aircraft, and ground-based observing systems. Read more about this image, which is via Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC/ NASA Earth Observatory.

Smoke from wildfires in Canada and the western United States is blanketing North America. As of July 21, 2021, air quality alerts had been issued even in the U.S. East, and, by mid-week, even New York City was blanketed with haze from wildfire smoke. The New York Times reported on July 21:

In recent weeks, a series of near-relentless heat waves and deepening drought linked to climate change have helped to fuel exploding wildfires. In southern Oregon, the Bootleg Fire grew so large and hot that it created its own weather, triggering lightning and releasing enormous amounts of smoke. But more than 80 large fires are currently burning across 13 American states, and many more are active across Canada.

See an animated smoke map of North America from July 21, 2021.

A U.S. map showing the western U.S. dotted with dozens of small shield-shaped icons representing wildfires.
Wildfires burning in the western U.S. as of July 22, 2021, via InciWeb.

Photos showing effects of wildfire smoke

A very red sunset, in a red sky, over water, with a reflection of the sun in the water.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Saranya J captured this image of a very red sunset on July 22, 2021 from the U.S. state of Maryland. Thank you, Saranya.
A very red sun over the roof of a house.
View at EarthSky Community Photos./ | Lorraine Boyd in Delmar, New York, captured this image on July 20, 2021. She wrote: “As phony as this looks, it is the sun as it is setting on a very hazy evening due to fires north near Canada and west of us. The sun was so vividly orange.”
A very red sunset in a dark sky, with the sunset reflecting on a lake.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Michael Terhune in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, captured this wildfire sunset on July 20, 2021. He said he’d “never seen one like this before.” Thank you, Michael.
A very deep orange-red waxing gibbous moon in a dark sky.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Bill Reyna in Wayne, New Jersey, wrote on July 21, 2021: “Calling this one the Smoke Moon, as the moon has been rendered an unusual orange color, almost looking like an eclipse, by the smoke from the fires from the western U.S. and Canada.” Thank you, Bill.
A composite image showing 3 shots of a very red first quarter moon.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Ragini Chaturvedi in Marlboro, New Jersey, captured these images of a reddened moon on July 20, 2021. She wrote: “Last night, at dusk, in the blue hour the smog from wildfires was still covering the skies and made the waxing noon all red, as well.” Thank you, Ragini.
Wildfire smoke caused this very red sun, crossed by clouds, in a darkened sky, above a dark horizon.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eric Thurber in Boise, Idaho, captured a reddened sun due to wildfire smoke on July 19, 2021: “Sunsets continue to be pretty wild as the smoke continues to roll into southwest Idaho.” Thank you, Eric.

Wildfire videos

The video below is from NOAA Satellites on July 15, 2021:

Meanwhile, earlier this week (July 19, 2021), extremely dangerous wildfire conditions were forecast in California and southern Oregon. Firefighters in both states were battling massive wildfires burning through numerous square miles, as shown in the video below:

Bottom line: Wildfire smoke is blanketing North America as of July 22, 2021. If you have an image of smoke or the effect of smoke on the sun or moon, you can submit it here.

July 23, 2021

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