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California Fires Turn the Sky Eerie Orange Over San Francisco

​On Wednesday, San Francisco residents woke up to an eerie orange sky. Smoke from wildfires has been ongoing in the city for weeks, but the layer that covered it on Wednesday morning was much thicker.

As the day continued, the sky started to take a darker nuance of orange, making life in the city at 11 a.m. feel like night time, with both streetlights and car headlights appearing through the dark and uncanny shadows expanding on the ground.

The all-day ‘eclipse’ took place because of a series of Northern California wildfires that started to expand after allegedly a few lightning storms and subsequent power outages. One of the wildfires, the SCU Lightning Complex, is 95 percent contained at the moment and has become one of the biggest in California’s history.

As firefighters continue to battle the fires that have brushed through this zone of the state, other firemen are trying to take care of the fires that have begun more recently, such as the ongoing Creek Fire that has burned more than 160,000 acres so far.

San Francisco, CA, U.S.A during 2020 wildfires. [Image Credit: Patrick Perkins​]
The smoke in San Francisco on Wednesday​ covered the space above the fog, so air quality was not that worse in spite of the surreal sky that looked like a scene in an apocalypse movie.

The weird orange color is because of a phenomenon called Mie scattering. It results in the sky having an orange or red hue when wildfire smokes enter the air. That is because the smoke particles, such as dust and soot, block the light of the Sun from getting to the ground.

For this reason, Wednesday​ morning’s air quality was not that bad, nor was the smell of the smoke as pungent as it usually is. However, this might change.

San Francisco is one of the numerous cities that is currently struggling with the impacts of the fires that are burning across California, as well as in other zones along the West Coast. Smoke from the fires will probably keep filling the air in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“It won’t be this bad all the time, but the scope of the fires is just that extreme,” UCLA scientist Daniel Swain said on Twitter on Wednesday.​

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