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John Wheeler: Choking smoke from distant fires is not typical

The smoke from wildfires hundred of miles away tends to be thicker high in the sky.

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FARGO โ€” With so many large wildfires already burning across the Canadian Rockies and boreal forest, it is likely that there will be smoke in our region from time to time through the summer. The smoke from wildfires hundred of miles away tends to be thicker high in the sky instead of low to the ground. Hot air rises, for one thing, while trees and other terrain tend to scrub out a lot of the smoke particles near the ground. The choking surface smoke last Wednesday and Thursday was a special case.

A cold pool of air in the wake of a cold front moved over the fires in Alberta and Saskatchewan and came directly to us. Warmer air above the cold pool trapped the smoke near the ground and delivered it to our noses. A similar circumstance may happen again, but most of the smoke this summer will be high in the sky, turning blue skies to a milky white and making the sun look orange and weak.

John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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