USA/Russia — Did you notice the haze outside Monday? It’s smoke traveling across the ocean from a wildfire burning in Russia.
The haze first rolled in Sunday and became pronounced Monday morning. We’re used to having smoke here from wildfires in California, but this is much different. This fire is about 5,000 miles away.
The fires are massive. Some reports say since starting last week, they’ve killed 33 people, destroyed more than a thousand homes, and charred 40,000 square miles.
“Farmers tend to burn their fields early in the spring in anticipation for planting and what not, due to the dry nature over there and some weather conditions. “The fires kinda got out of control,” said Nick Nauslar, a graduate assistant with the Desert Research Institute.
Nauslar says the fires in Siberia are so big, they’re spreading smoke to Reno.
“That smoke is getting lofted up and traveling across the Pacific and then it is settling down across the Pacific Northwest,” said Nauslar.
These models from NASA show the smoke getting up into the jet stream, moving across the ocean, and settling over Washington and Oregon. Nevada is getting the bottom portion of the smoke cloud.
“It’s kinda crazy to have all this smoke travel this far, but it kinda reinforces the fact that the air we breath and the air we see travels from Asia and has occurred 3-7 days ago,” said Nauslar.
“Air pollution can travel thousands and thousands of miles away and we can see the impacts here in the Truckee Meadows,” said Daniel Inouye with Washoe County Air Quality.
The air we’re breathing isn’t too dirty. Inouye says the smoke has dissipated and it is staying high in the atmosphere.
“We have noticed some higher particulate levels than what we would expect for this time of day and this time of year,” said Inouye.
Still, our air quality remains in the normal to moderate level, far from the level where people start to see health impacts.
The haze will be more pronounced in the cooler hours of evening and morning, but it is a little unclear how long the haze will stick around.