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Smokey Phoenix air is from Canada?

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Phoenix area's smoky air - blame Canada

by Karen Schmidt - May. 19, 2011 12:40 PM

The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

Hours after a rainstorm blew through the Phoenix area, residents woke up Thursday to see a haze in the skies.

Some smelled smoke -- but didn't see a hint of a fire anywhere.

What gives?

Blame Canada. And Mother Nature.

A weather system is pushing air from our neighbors up north, where wildfires have been burning in the western Canadian province of Alberta, bringing to the Valley the smoky conditions.

Some 87 wildfires were burning Monday -- down from 115 Sunday -- in Alberta, charring more than 400,000 acres, according to the Edmonton Journal.

So say officials at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, which consulted with meteorologists before issuing its explanation.

"You'll never believe this," agency spokesman Mark Shaffer said after checking into the mystery. "I never would have guessed it," he said.

Neither did the scores of Valley residents who took to Facebook and Twitter to raise the question.

"Maybe it's pre-apocalyptic smoldering since the world is supposed to end on Saturday," Stormy Smith Olsen joked on 12 News' Facebook page.

And there's no way the haze is the result of the Horseshoe Two fire burning in Cochise County southeastern Arizona? As some local meteorologists speculated in their broadcasts?

No, apparently. That's because the winds are pushing smoke from that fire - it has charred some 33,000 acres - to the east, in the direction of New Mexico and southwestern Texas, Shaffer says.


Source

Hazy, smoke from Canada?

Many of you posted on our facebook page this morning that there was a haze in the air, and that it smelled like smoke. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, or ADEQ, says the haze & smoke in the Valley was caused by the jet stream dragging smoke down from a wildfire burning near Alberta, Canada. We found out that it is 86 wildfires, in fact, burning out of control. At one point, there were 115 fires! When I first heard the statement from ADEQ, I almost didnít believe it. Iíve never heard of smoke transferring so far (thousands of miles!) along the winds of the jet stream. After thinking about it though, I realized that this isnít really out of the question.

The jet stream is a narrow stream of fast-moving air, thousands of feet in the upper atmosphere that dictates our weather patterns on a daily and weekly basis. The jet stream has been known to carry water particles, storm systems, volcanic ash, and most recently, trace element of radiation from Japan across over 5,000í miles of the Pacific!

It is extraordinary that the smoke from the Canada fires made it here to Arizona, but we were not dealing with a typical jet stream pattern. The storm that moved through yesterday was an extraordinary weather event in itself. It was a strong, cold storm, like weíve never seen in the middle of May, with jet stream speeds at the highest, and an unusual pattern that most certainly could have ushered that smoke from Canada into the Valley. While I have personally, never experienced such an event before, this is an amazing, rare meteorological occurrence, that I am excited to have witnessed!

-Sarah Walters & Rob Carlmark, 12 News Meteorologists

 

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