• Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

California wildfires: Smoke turns skies orange

Downtown San Francisco is seen from Dolores Park under an orange sky Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Darkness fell on San Francisco on Wednesday, as smoke from wildfires filled its skies

A plume of smoke from wildfires in the US state of California has descended on the San Francisco area, causing the sky over the region to turn orange.

Some 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major blazes across California, amid a historic heatwave.

Wildfires have burned more than 2.5 million acres in the state this year, killing at least eight people.

On Wednesday, strong winds blew smoke and ash from some of those blazes in northern parts of the state.

Downtown San Francisco is seen from Dolores Park under an orange sky Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some residents of San Francisco believed it was still night up when they woke up on Wednesday

Residents of San Francisco and the surrounding areas woke up to darkened skies, disorientating some, who thought it was still night time.

“It feels like the end of the world,” Catherine Geeslin, who lives in the West Portal area of the city, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It was alarming to see it’s still dark. And it will be strange to have lunch in the dark. But you still have to get on with your day.”

Local media reported that it still appeared to be dawn at 10:45 (18:45 BST), as the sun’s rays struggled to penetrate the thick smoke.

A pedestrian takes a photo of an orange sky darkened by smoke from California wildfires Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The smoke came from wildfires burning in northern parts of California

In a tweet, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said “extremely dense” and “tall smoke plumes” were “almost completely blocking out the sun”.

1px transparent line

That smoke, experts said, was also behind the sky’s orange glow.

Smoke particles from the wildfires “only allow yellow-orange-red light to reach the surface, causing skies to look orange”, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District explained on Twitter.

Visitors are seen in Dolores Park under an orange sky Image copyright Reuters
Image caption One forecaster said the orange sky was “not a common sight”

“This is not a common sight because this takes very specific conditions in order for this to happen,” National Weather Service (NWS) forecaster Brian Garcia told SFGate. “Obviously, you need fires that have ample smoke production.”

As wildfires continue to burn, forecasters expect similar conditions in the coming days.

2px presentational grey line

More on the California wildfires

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe wildfires have left small towns almost destroyed

All images subject to copyright.