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California wildfires cause skies over UK to turn orange as smoke travels 5,000 miles

THE wildfires currently raging along the west coast of the US have caused the skies of the UK 5,000 miles away to turn orange.

Meteorologists have confirmed the unusual orange skies seen by Brits on Friday were caused by the wildfires that are currently tearing through California, Oregon and Washington states.

The fires which have ripped through 470,000 acres of dry vegetation have created huge dust plumes which have now been blown across the Atlantic Ocean.

Weather forecasters MetDesk tweeted on Friday: “Noticed a bit of a orange glow this morning?

“There is some evidence on trajectory models from NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] for traces of smoke originating from the US wildfires causing more of an orange tint to the cirrus clouds here in the UK this morning.”

Senior scientist at Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Mark Parrington said that the aerosol forecasts showed “California fires smoke over Ireland before crossing the UK and North Sea throughout Friday”

Hugo Ricketts, an atmospheric physicist, tweeted: “There was definitely a slight red tint to the sun over Manchester,” and meteorologist Paul Knightley said that at midday there was “still a rather hazy look to the sky”. 

One Twitter user claimed he thought he even smelt “burning pine” while on his commute to work in the morning, but Simon Lee, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said this was unlikely, The Telegraph reports.

“Meteorologically speaking, in the last few days we have seen a very strong and straight, west-east, jet stream, flowing across the North Atlantic from North America to Europe, which has undoubtedly helped rapidly and coherently transport the aerosols from North America.”

He added it was “not too unusual for large dust plumes to travel huge distances – for example, Saharan dust often arrives at the US southeast”.

Met Office meteorologist John Griffiths said the orange glow would have been most obvious at sunrise and sunset due to the angle of the sun.

He added Brits may have seen an orange moon, saying “the light coming through from the moon isn’t as strong as the sun, so it’s more likely to get filtered by anything in the atmosphere.”

Over in the US, authorities have reported at least 25 people have died due to the fires and thousands of properties have been destroyed

Oregon’s emergency management director, Andrew Phelps, said officials are “preparing for a mass fatality event”.

Authorities said that a man had been arrested on Friday on two counts of arson for allegedly starting a fire in southern Oregon on Tuesday.

Governor Kate Brown said more than 40,000 Oregonians have been evacuated and about 500,000 are in different levels of evacuation zones – having been told to leave or to prepare to do so. 

Portland on Friday had the worst air quality of the world’s major cities, according to IQAir.

People as far north as Victoria in Canada’s British Columbia reported waking up to smoke, with poor air quality recorded along the whole length of the US west coast.

The August Complex Fire became the biggest recorded blaze in Californian history on Thursday, after multiple fires in the state’s northwest combined in high temperatures and winds.


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