Harvey County, Sept. 8, 2022. (KSN News Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Sunsets in Kansas have been especially vibrant recently, and there’s a simple reason why.

Record-setting heat and numerous wildfires are plaguing the western half of the United States. A large part of that has to do with our jet stream, which glides through our upper atmosphere at roughly 35,000 feet. This is about the same height that commercial airlines fly at.

Three of the bigger wildfires in the area are all located in Idaho. These fires – Ross Fork, Moose and Four Corners – have already burned hundreds of thousands of acres and are still active.

  • Ross Fork Fire: began Aug. 14, caused by lightning, and is only 2% contained
  • Moose Fire: began July 17, caused by humans, and is 35% contained
  • Four Corners Fire: began Aug. 13, caused by lightning, and is 55% contained
This is a picture of the sunset near Beloit on Sept. 8, 2022. (Courtesy Ann Eilert)

The air quality from the combination of these fires has quickly deteriorated, and some of the smoke has now found its way into northeast Kansas. The jet stream, which often consists of wind speeds over 200 mph, has ultimately played a big part in guiding the smoke plumes into the Central Plains.

Lately, our skies have been a bit hazier, and that has allowed for some vibrant sunrises and sunsets to occur. The various particles that the smoke has introduced into the atmosphere tend to scatter the sunlight more as the rays of light bounce through the air on the horizon. Here are a few photos that viewers have sent in:

This is a picture of the sunset near Beloit on Sept. 8, 2022. (Courtesy Ann Eilert)