Why is the sky looking apocalyptic?


On Wednesday September 8th, Californians woke up to blood orange skies with ash and crisp pine needles raining down as wildfires blaze across the state. This weather sparked comparisons to The Martian, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 which have scenes of a futuristic city blanketed in haze set in the future or in the case of The Martian on another planet entirely. While it might look out of this world the apocalyptic skies are a result of wind carrying remnants of what could become California’s worst fire season on record. 

Bay Area residents reported oversleeping because the sky was so dark. Police recommended drivers keep headlights on all day and bridges and street lights remained alight as the sun failed to appear that morning. Communities from California, past Oregon, and even as far as the north of Seattle have experienced these bloodied skies and ashy smoke. Winds coming from the Pacific Ocean will continue to push the smoke up the west coast worsening air quality. Air quality warnings were issued throughout NorCal while more than 85 fires raged on. 

The sky’s coloring has to do with the way smoke affects what light, the sky is usually blue because white light from the sun but smoke and pollution actually absorbs the white light before it can reach our eyes only allowing yellow, red and orange hues to light the surface. Smoky air also absorbs the sun’s light before reaching the surface making it gloomy during the daytime. Despite the spooky skies, the actual quality of the air near the ground was overall good because of the high winds that kept the smoke at a high altitude of 2,000 to 4,000ft above our sleepy halloween town according to the National Weather Service. While the hope is that this weather will not continue, it is very likely that this won’t be the last time the fiery skies will show their unhappy colors. 

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