You may have noticed an odd-looking sky this week over parts of Utica, Rome, Syracuse and the Greater Central New York region.

Our atmosphere has been ravaged by smoke from the recent wildfires in California and Oregon, and what might normally be blue skies have turned a cloudy white--and could even look orange at times during sunsets. This is a similar phenomenon to the purple skies we experienced as a result of the Charlestown fire.

It's expected to continue through Thursday, after which a cold front will clear things up. Ben Lott, a meterologist with the Binghamton branch of the National Weather Service provided this map on his office's Twitter feed:

Lott told that smoke from the fires is so high up in the atmosphere that it will not adversely affect our air quality, so breathe deep with no worries.

It's estimated that roughly sixty percent of wildfires are caused naturally by lightning strikes or volcanic eruptions, while the remaining 40 percent are started, according to Wikipedia, by "activities such as open burning, the use of engines or vehicles [or] dropping burning substances such as cigarettes."

There are four major forms of wildfire, according to Wikipedia:

  • Ground fires are fed by subterranean roots, duff and other buried organic matter.
  • Crawling or surface fires are fueled by low-lying vegetation on the forest floor such as leaf and timber litter, debris, grass, and low-lying shrubbery.
  • Ladder fires consume material between low-level vegetation and tree canopies, such as small trees, downed logs, and vines.
  • Crowncanopy, or aerial fires burn suspended material at the canopy level, such as tall trees, vines, and mosses.
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