The Station Fire burning in Southern California is sending up an incredible amount of smoke. And it's not just making it a hazy mess in the L.A. area -- the smoke is being carried across the U.S. by the upper level winds.
You can see on the satellite image above that the smoke trail has blown east across Nevada and Arizona, through Utah and Colorado, and into the Midwest where it's stacked up in the Dakotas and Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. But now it also looks like it has spread north into the Dakotas and even into the far reaches of northern Minnesota!
The smoke trail has made for some hazy skies in those areas, with brilliant red sunsets at times due to the smoke filtering out the light.
But the wildfire smoke also acts like a trail of breadcrumbs to see the upper air flow of the atmosphere at this time.
Here is the short term weather chart:
Note the high pressure in the southwestern Desert, and another big High over the Great Lakes.
Air flows clockwise around a high pressure system, so you can see just by glancing at the satellite how the current atmospheric flow is shaping up. (Oh boy! I get to use my awesome Photoshop skills again!)
So, how does that much smoke get carried that far? Someone just forwarded me this link to time lapse video of the wildfires down there, courtesy of BrandonRiza.com.
This is one of the best visuals I've seen to the power of a wildfire:
And here are some other time lapse videos, which are starting to populate YouTube: