CHARLOTTE — You may have noticed a more reddish-orange hue to the sky over the Charlotte area -- it is actually from the blazing wildfires on the West Coast and in Canada.
The smoke from dozens of wildfires in the western United States is stretching clear across the country -- and even pushing into Mexico, Canada and Europe. While the dangerous plumes are forcing people inside along the West Coast, residents thousands of miles away in the East are seeing unusually hazy skies and remarkable sunsets.
Extraordinary plumes of wildfire smoke are billowing out of these massive complexes, reaching so far up into the atmosphere that they are being carried thousands of miles east by high-level winds.
Smoke from those wildfires gets spewed up into the atmosphere, where the jet stream then lifts it 20,000 to 25,000 feet above the earth’s surface, sending it down the East Coast.
The smoke at high levels of the atmosphere is visible in several ways. Its effect on light causes the sun to look red at sunset as the sky takes on a burnt-orange color. A similar effect can be seen in the morning as the sun rises.
This happens because of the way light passes through the atmosphere. Sunlight is scattered in all directions by small air particles and the smallest wavelengths -- the blues -- are scattered the most, which is why the sky is blue.
Smoke particles are much larger, scattering the red wavelengths more efficiently and causing the sky to take on a yellow or orange tint.
Channel 9′s model data shows that the mountains and areas north of Charlotte have the best viewing opportunities on Wednesday and Thursday to see these vivid sky shows.
CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this article.
(WATCH BELOW: Western wildfires: What you need to know)
©2021 Cox Media Group