The haze that’s been lingering over the Upper Lynn Canal for a day or so is likely from fires far away, meteorologists say. While it’s not known for sure which fires are the cause of smoky fog, officials agree that there is no immediate danger.
Tuesday morning, residents in Haines and Skagway started noticing a haze hanging around both communities. But it’s not from fires close by.
Sharon Alden , a meteorologist with the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, says after examining satellite imagery and webcams, she can see the haze, but can’t quite figure out where it’s coming from.
There’s currently a fire burning really hot in northern British Columbia, but it’s more than 100 miles away and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction for residents here to see, or smell, the effects, she says. There’s a wildfire smoldering near Tok, too. But, again, the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. The AICC map shows two tiny fires between Haines and Juneau, though one is reportedly extinguished, and the other is a fraction of an acre in size.
In short, Alden says she can’t find a concrete source for the smoke.
Down in Juneau, National Weather Service Meteorologist David Levin says it’s possible the smoke traveled from elsewhere in the state days ago, and is just now settling here. He says the smoky haze has popped up on weather cameras around Southeast.
“We imagine it must be something that got picked up over the Interior or maybe over the Kenai and got translated over the Gulf (of Alaska) over several days and is just now reaching here,” he says. “It’s nothing directly coming from the Interior or the fires up in Canada, but from our estimation it’s probably come over the Gulf and just take a couple of days to get here.”
Levin says it’s common for Southeast to get some forest fire smoke throughout the summer from across Alaska and Northern Canada.
Though “It’s not typical for it to come across the Gulf and make that long trek coming from the west, but it’s possible.”
He says a recent high pressure system in the region helped bring the smoke here.
“Anything that’s down near the surface up to about 4,000 gets trapped, it can’t rise up and disperse. Then the westerly flow at the surface and over the lower levels – whatever is down there and is trapped just gets moved along with the wind flow.”
Levin says there is no fire danger in the area, and visibility is still good, so flights are not affected at this time.