American Skies Turn Blood Red As Wildfires Continue To Burn
The United States is often associated with having clear skies and bright sunshine, especially in the summer, but Oregon residents were met with a shocking sight when the skies turned blood red.
Seeing red in the sky isn’t uncommon at sunrise and sunset, but photos and videos shared widely online yesterday, September 8, are difficult to comprehend.
The sky above the state turned a dramatic, bright shade of red as a result of the wildfires that continue to burn across numerous areas in the west of the country. Many of the images were captured long before sunset, with the eerie skies visible in full daylight hours.
See footage of the sky below:
Though the sky appears to be as red as the fires scorching the land below, the colour of the sky is not caused by the glow of the flames. Instead, it’s the result of a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering, which is caused by smoke particles from the wildfires, IFL Science reports.
Rayliegh scattering explains why we see the sky as blue during the day and as reddish pink in the early morning or evening. Visible light is made up of colours in different wavelengths, and as sunlight passes through the gases and particles in Earth’s atmosphere, the different wavelengths get broken up through refraction and scattering.
During daylight, this effect causes sunlight to be lightly scattered and appear blue. At sunrise or sunset, the Sun is lower in the sky and takes a longer path through the atmosphere, prompting more scattering and so making the sky appear more red.
The midday red skies in Oregon are down to the fact that more light can be scattered if there’s more pollution, smoke, and other micro-particles in the atmosphere, as there currently is in Oregon because of the wildfires.
CNN reports there are about 40 large fires burning across California, Oregon and Washington after extreme heat and high winds spurred on the flames.
Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the areas, with more than 230,000 acres burned in Oregon alone. Governor Kate Brown said that although she has seen ‘historic wildfires’ almost every year since she took office, this year’s blazes are ‘unprecedented’.
Brown described the fires as a ‘once-in-a-generation event’ and said that the situation is so difficult and dangerous that ‘even firefighters are being evacuated’.
The red skies and shocking images really make the seriousness of the situation hit home; our thoughts are with all those affected by the wildfires.
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