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Smoke from West Coast fires hovers over Virginia

Smoke from West Coast fires hovers over Virginia

Smokey Spotsylvania sky

Images from the Mark Slade Remote Observatory in Wilderness show smoke from fires on the West Coast covering Spotsylvania skies.

While fires rage on the other side of the country, smoke from those blazes has found its way to Virginia.

Myron Wasiuta submitted photos showing a large smoke cloud being blown across the state from fires out West. Wasiuta is the director of the Mark Slade Remote Observatory in Wilderness, where the photos were taken from the observatory’s sky camera.

An Aug. 30 image shows a normal sunset: the darkening sky over Spotsylvania County dotted with twinkling stars. A second image from Sept. 15 shows a brown haze covering most of the horizon with a smattering of stars shining through. He said camera settings and times were the same for both exposures.

“Our sunsets have been unusually red,” he said, “and the night skies devoid of all but the brightest stars.”

He can’t recall the last time that kind of smoky haze has blown almost 3,000 miles from fires on the West Coast.

“It’s pretty unusual for smoke that far away to reach us,” he said. “Shows how large and serious those fires are.”

The National Weather Service said earlier this week that plumes from the deadly and record-breaking fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington are being caught in the atmosphere’s jet stream and carried across the country.

The fires have charred more than 5 million acres and destroyed entire towns on the West Coast, creating enough smoke to partially shroud the sun in sections of the East Coast, according to weather forecasters.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

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