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Smoke from western wildfires reaches New England

A plane’s contrail cast a shadow on a layer of smoke above the Mount Washington Observatory.
A plane’s contrail cast a shadow on a layer of smoke above the Mount Washington Observatory.Mount Washington Observatory

Weather observers at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire have reported seeing smoke from the wildfires on the West Coast in New England.

The smoke is probably making its way to the White Mountains via a jet stream. As smoke from the fires in California, Oregon, and British Columbia rises, it gets swept toward the Northeast by a “high-velocity river of air” that wraps around the entire planet, Ian Bailey, a weather observer and education specialist at the observatory, said.

Bailey observed the smoke in the air this week, when he looked up and saw that the contrail left behind by a plane had cast a shadow onto the layer of smoke below it. To the naked eye, the smoke may look like fog or haze, but weather observers at the observatory can see the difference on satellite images, Bailey said.


The thin layer of smoke has been in the area for the last few weeks, Bailey said, and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is monitoring it as well.

Smoke from Western wildfires has been seen in the region in years past, as the wildfires are a yearly occurrence, Bailey said. Firefighters in California this summer have been working on mitigating damage caused by the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon.