By Rich McKay
(Reuters) – Dozens of wildfires raging through the forests and scrublands of the western United States have spewed so much smoke that it is helping an army of firefighters gain ground in the nation’s largest fire, the Oregon Bootleg Fire, by blocking sunlight, authorities said Saturday. .
Both the National Weather Service and Oregon Forest Department officials said smoke in the lower atmosphere from the California wildfires floated over the Bootleg Fire, which has burned more than 401,000 acres in Oregon within 250 miles (402 km ) south of Portland.
“It’s called ‘smoke shadowing’ and it basically blocks the lower atmosphere for now, blocking sunlight and creating cooler, more stable surface conditions,” said Eric Schoening, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
The phenomenon is unpredictable and the area is still under red flag warnings this weekend from the NWS, which said the Pacific Northwest may experience high temperatures and gusts of wind that can fan flames and spread hot sparks and embers.
Schoening said the weather is a “mixed bag” in terms of helping firefighters.
Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the downside of the “smoke shadow” is that it makes it more difficult to fly water-spewing planes and helicopters and chemical fire suppressants even “while helping crews on the ground.” “
An army of more than 2,000 firefighters and support teams had contained about 42% of the fire as of Saturday, although the fire jumped over containment lines the night before, he said.
“We lost 1,600 acres last night,” Kauffman said.
The Bootleg Fire is one of more than 80 large active wildfires in 13 states that have charred about 1.3 million acres (526,090 hectares) in recent weeks, an area larger than Delaware, according to the National Interagency Fire Center ( NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. .
The smoke, while providing some help to Oregon firefighters, has recently been carried by the jet stream and other air currents to the northeastern cities of New York and Boston, where some residents have felt the pollution from the air in their eyes, noses. and lungs.
Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any responsibility for loss or damage as a result of reliance on information, including data, quotes, charts, and buy / sell signals contained on this website. Be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest forms of investment possible.