If you happen to be in the western US, the chances are rather high you can see smoke somewhere in the distance thanks to the 93 active large wildfires in the region. As these large fires burn, they let out high concentrations of smoke that can be seen for miles.
Based on the upper-level weather pattern, a ridge of high pressure will remain dominate over much of the region for the foreseeable future, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest. The ridge will act like a trapping force-field, keeping the smoke contained, and therefore keeping the skies hazy for the next several days to perhaps weeks.
The HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) computer model is one of the short-range weather tools meteorologists use to forecast different components of the weather, such as radar and temperature. The model can also indicate how high the concentration of smoke may be. The model image below highlights the different concentrations of the smoke for this Thursday afternoon, indicating how expansive it is across the country.
The smoke can even be seen on satellite imagery. This GOES-16 geocolor satellite image captured Wednesday afternoon illustrates how hazy the skies are above the western US.
Thus, it is easy to see how so many in the region can see the smoke from the ground, even if they themselves are not in immediate danger from the fires. For places such as Las Vegas, reduced air quality due to this smoke has become a concern.
Air quality has remained in the moderate category today. As the sun lowered in the western sky, and our camera looked back to the Valley, you could definitely make out some of the haze from wildfire smoke. @News3LV pic.twitter.com/6bPHJZhI3I
— Kevin Janison (@KevinNews3LV) August 2, 2018
Thankfully however, air quality should remain at safe levels for most areas for most unless you are in close proximity to any of the wildfires.