News reports and social networking websites in Arizona have been buzzing this week over the smell of smoke.
Wildfires are commonplace in the desert southwest. But right now the winds are pushing the smoke from the Arizona fires away from the state.
So how come people are complaining of smelling smoke?
To find the answer you’ve got to look to our ”neighbours” to the north in Canada. According to Environment Canada, there are at least 80 wildfires ripping across Alberta right now. The province’s fires are prompting evacuations, slowing the country’s crude oil production and impacting Arizona, all thanks to the winds.
The general wind flow over North America is from west to east. But dips in the jet stream, storm systems, and a laundry list of other natural factors can cause changes in wind flow.
What’s happening in Arizaon is just another example.
Looking at satallite images, you can trace the smoke from the Canadian fires moving along the US West Coast and then banking into Arizona. Incredible!
The wind is pretty amazing when you consider what impact it can have. You’ll recall during the height of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster when trace particles of nuclear material were found in the United States after the earthquake and tsunami?
The same principle applies with volcanoes. When major volcanoes erupt, the ash they throw into the atmosphere travels with the wind flow and moves around the globe.
1816 is known as “The Year Without a Summer.” Why? In 1815 a huge volcano erupted sending incredible amounts of ash into the atmosphere. It circled the globe and along with a few other factors (like an unusually low amount of solar output that year) cooled the earth’s surface temperature.
It got so cold that measurable snowfall fell in the middle of the summer in New York, Maine, Quebec and Connecticut!
Everything travels with the wind. We can even see sand blowing from the deserts of Africa travel across the Atlantic into the Caribbean!
So though it might sound strange, hard to believe or too crazy to be true, the wind can do some really amazing things. What happens in one part of the world truly does impact us all!