Friday, August 19, 2016

Smoky Skies, Dry Vegetation

The Wasatch Range from Neil Armstrong Academy (West Valley City).  Courtesy MesoWest.
If you happened to up and about early, you would have noticed that the moon was made with a bit of cheddar cheese this morning as it had a hint of an orange hue, usually an indication of smoke in the air.  Indeed yesterday things were starting to look smoky (if not even earlier) and this morning the view of the Wasatch is degraded by a bit of smoke.  

I'm not sure where the smoke is coming from, but yesterday we had a very weak trough passage, resulting in a brief period of northwesterly flow at 700-mb, as indicated in the analysis below for 6 PM (0000 UTC). 

NASA Worldview imagery from yesterday shows smoke across much of the Intermountain West, but the greatest concentrations were over northwest Nevada and southern Idaho, so perhaps that northwesterly flow brought in some of that smoke.

So far this fire season I think northern Utah has been quite fortunate.  We've had some incidents (e.g., Antelope Island), but for the most part it's been pretty quiet considering that the landscape is a tinderbox right now.  Hiking and biking the past couple of weeks I've noticed that not only the grass is dry, which is pretty typical for late summer, but even many of the trees, shrubs, and vegetation is looking pretty brown.  Low areas and seeps that often stay green through the summer look quite stressed and dry as well.  Let's hope we make it to the snows of fall without major incidents.

1 comment:

  1. I found a link to a US map of soil moisture conditons, showing much of northeast Utah below the 5th percentile and portions at less than the 2nd percentile of soil moisture. Hopefully this link works: