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Western wildfires causing hazy sky

We have seen this happen before, but Stormtracker 16 Meteorologist Ally Gallo explains why it is so prominent this week.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — On what should have been a sunny day across northeastern and central PA, actually was pretty hazy.

Smoke from wildfires out west and Canada is drifting this far east.

"So many acres are burning that when the smoke goes into the atmosphere, prevailing winds come, direction from west to east across the country. So what we're getting is the minute particles that were caught in the winds in the jet stream," said Jessica Faux, Keystone College Assistant Professor of Biology and Program Director for Wildlife and Environmental Sciences.

What is happening is just like when the jet stream brings weather systems across the country.

The milky sky is so prominent this week because of our current wind direction. 

"The winds are coming out of the west-northwest, so it's bringing the smoke down into our skies down into northeastern and central Pennsylvania," explained National Weather Service Meteorologist Dave Nicosia. 

The smoke is making for colorful sunrises and sunsets this week, too.

Keep sending your photos to the weather department.

This happens because the smoke particles are larger than normal air particles, so light is scattered differently.

"The sunlight goes through a thicker part of the atmosphere. And the particular matter scatters the red light much more efficiently, so you see a lot more red," Nicosia explained. 

The smoke is also impacting our air quality.

The Air Quality Index for the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area is over 100, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an Air Quality Alert for our area Tuesday. 

"Those with more of a serious respiratory illnesses or disease. The average person probably isn't going to notice it too much. They are very minute particles; it has traveled a long way even though there's a lot of them. Definitely, people who are more susceptible who have asthma or any other medical conditions could feel the effect," Faux explained. 

The smoke is even keeping high temperatures down a few degrees, but meteorologists with the National Weather Service say you should still be protecting your skin if you're outside.

A shift in the wind direction or the fires burning themselves out will cause the haze to go away here in northeastern and central PA.

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