If the sky looks a little strange in the coming days, blame the wildfires in the West.
Smoke from the fires will arrive Friday in Massachusetts after traveling thousands of miles from burning forests on the other side of the country. The result will likely be a “milky haze” through the weekend, along with colorful sunsets, National Weather Service forecasters said.
“Smoke in the upper layers of the atmosphere, generated by western wildfires, will filter into our area this afternoon. The hazy appearance to the sky will pose no threat to the public, but will provide the opportunity for vivid reddish hues to develop during sunset,” forecasters said in a Web posting Friday.
The forecasters tweeted a computer model predicting the smoke will swirl into the area on Friday.
The smoke from the fires rises and is caught by the jet stream, which carries it east, said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Boston area office.
Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist at accuweather.com, said the smoke is coming from wildfires in Idaho, Oregon, and northern California.
“It’s not uncommon that we start seeing smoke this time of the year in the East,” he said. “Especially in the last several years.”
The smoke is being caught by the winds because the jet stream tends to shift back south this time of year, he said. “There’s a lot more flow traveling west to east right now,” he said.
The smoke is being whisked to the Midwest before heading northward. It’s then expected to drift into upstate New York and New England, he said.
Without the smoke, sunshine and blue skies would have been expected. But now it might even look cloudy at times and the temperatures might drop a smidgen.
By Sunday, due to a change in the pattern of the jet stream, the smoke will likely shift to the north, affecting the sky in Maine and eastern Canada, he said.
Another faraway event will have an impact on New England weather this weekend. Forecasters have issued a high surf advisory for south coastal New England and Rhode Island, including Cape Cod and the Islands and Block Island, until 6 p.m. Saturday. They’ve also issued one for North Shore beaches.
Large breaking waves on ocean beaches will cause dangerous swimming and surfing conditions, and many beaches no longer have lifeguards, the weather service warned. There is an elevated risk for rip currents.
The reason? Hurricane Earl, which is steaming through the Atlantic hundreds of miles to the south and east.
Martin Finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.