Just Askin' | Wildfires' wide reach

Just Askin' | Wildfires' wide reach

Q: How does wildfire smoke from California make it to Illinois?

A: Simple, University of Illinois weather professor Jeff Frame said: "These fires can create smoke flumes thousands of feet, sometimes tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere."

Winds are faster at that height, and the faster flow helps carry the smoke across the country, Frame said.

During the Perseid meteor shower last weekend, Frame said the smoke made it more difficult to see the meteors.

"Saturday and Sunday were both clear, but I remember looking up at the sky after dark, and you could tell there was this haze. That was the wildfire smoke," he said.

The smoke continued on Tuesday, but winds from the south cleared the skies Wednesday.

Rain also cuts down on the smoke.

"Rain would wash those particles out of the atmosphere," Frame said.

But if the fires continue and the winds are right, central Illinoisans could see more smoke in the atmosphere.

"It's not an unusual phenomenon to see," Frame said. "As long as those fires keep going out there, we may see things return."

That being said, the smoke isn't dangerous.

"There's not any kind of public health issues. It's all several thousand feet or more above the surface," Frame said. "There's no problems with the air quality."

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