TOPEKA (KSNT) – The sky over northeast Kansas has been a bit hazy lately and that largely has to do with the numerous wildfires burning in Canada.
One might wonder how wildfires well over 1,000 miles away could possibly impact us here in our neck of the woods. The answer – our weather patterns.
Currently, a dominating surface high pressure system has parked itself over much of the central plains these last several days. That is why the weather has been so pleasant here in northeast Kansas. Temperatures have been in the 80s and we haven’t seen a whole lot of rain; the high pressure system guides most active weather away from us.
However, in the upper atmosphere, our jetstream is playing a more silent role in guiding some of the smoke from those Canadian wildfires right to our doorstep. As the smoke gets carried further away from its heat source, it eventually cools and sinks. This is what we are noticing here at the surface. Granted, the wildfire smoke hasn’t been as bad as years past – but it is enough to slightly drop our air quality here.
“AirNow” – a website that tracks air quality and wildfire smoke – currently has Topeka sitting in the moderate category for air quality. That is only the second level out of six, but the impacts are still being noticed; we have an AQI (air quality index) of 74.
For comparison’s sake, Buffalo Narrows in Saskatchewan Canada has an AQI of 241. This is currently where some of the worst air quality in North America is at. (Level five out of six).
Below is where current fires and hotspots are being tracked across portions of the U.S. You’ll notice that Kansas doesn’t have many active fires and the majority of the fires are located well to our north.
Although the air quality isn’t particularly concerning here in Northeast Kansas, the hazy skies are still noticeable enough to create some vibrantly red sunrises and sunsets lately. Here are a few photos submitted by viewers: