Iowans who happened to be up for sunrise Wednesday got a rare treat. Smoke from wildfires in Alberta, Canada, is filtering high over Iowa and it’s making the sun appear as a golden-reddish-orange ball. Meteorologist Brooke Hagenhoff, at the National Weather Service, says the phenomenon should be visible at sunset tonight, too, and for that matter, the sun and sky may look unusual all day, perhaps longer.
Iowans who have certain health issues and difficulty breathing should -not- feel any ill effects from the smoke, as it’s far up in the atmosphere, perhaps 20-thousand feet up. Plus, she says, it doesn’t even smell like smoke outside.
There are at least 90 wildfires now burning in Canada with more than 20 of them out of control. More than 20-thousand Canadians have been evacuated from their homes because of the fires, and cities like Calgary are under alerts due to poor air quality. Hagenhoff doesn’t anticipate anything similar here and the smoke is so high aloft, it doesn’t even appear on radar over Iowa. The odd-looking sky could persist, though.
The federal government runs a website called simply, AirNow, and it’s focused on fires and smoke. The site includes a color-coded map through which you can zoom in on individual Iowa counties to check on air quality. Just go to www.fire.airnow.gov/.