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Western forest fires blow haze into region

The smoky haze that's been hanging over the region the past several days has cleared, but there's no guarantee it won't be back.

Dan Riddle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, said forest fires in the Pacific Northwest — specifically in western Montana, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — have been to blame for the hazy skies.

"(How long the haze will last) all depends on the upper-level wind-flow pattern. It's transporting those fine particles up in the atmosphere," Riddle said. "And, of course, the closer you are to the fires, the thicker the smoke and the haze."

Riddle said he expects upper-level winds to be a bit more northerly but also said it's difficult to predict with the smoke so high in the atmosphere.

"We might continue to have a little bit of high-level haze, but I don't think it will be very thick," he said.

Either way, Riddle said the haze hasn't affected the weather other than to block out a little sunshine. It has, however, created beautiful conditions for sunrise and sunset photography.

"The moonlight and sunlight is filtered, so there have been a lot of red moons and sunrises and sunsets," Riddle said.

The fires have been burning off and on since about June in British Columbia, he said.

"I think last year we had it even worse with the forest fires up in northern Canada," he said. "Until fairly recently, we have not had a whole lot of smoke in the sky this year."

The possibility of hazy skies likely will continue into the fall.

"We'll have to wait until the fires lessen in number, but that's not going to happen anytime soon because the fires are still raging," Riddle said.

Dry outlook

After Sunday's storms dropped pea- to nickel-sized hail on much of the region, Riddle said the rest of Potato Bowl week "and a long time into the future" looks dry.

Temperatures will be in the upper 60s and 70s most of the week and warm to the low 80s on Saturday and Sunday. Winds will be less than 10 mph through Friday and increase to 10 to 25 mph for the weekend.

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