Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: What is causing the wildfires out west and are we seeing impacts in Kansas?

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High pressure has been the driving force of why the wildfires across Colorado and beyond have been so bad over the last week or so. Areas of high pressure bring dry, hot, and usually quiet conditions.

In this case, it is not helping the conditions whatsoever in our neighboring state of Colorado. High pressure, hot temperatures, and single-digit relative humidities continue to make extreme fire behavior possible both day and night. The Pine Gulch Fire has by far been the worst with nearly 127,000 acres burned. It remains the second-largest wildfire in state history. Nineteen percent of the perimeter is contained as of Saturday.

This ridge higher up in the atmosphere is circulating the smoke particulates clockwise around the center. Here at home, we have seen some of that smoke transported into the viewing area because of those wind higher up in the sky from the northwest. This pattern is what we call “northwesterly flow” and it not only brings smoke our way but also weak impulses in the atmosphere. These have brought rounds of showers and storms. Now that this area of high pressure is moving eastward, we will be drier and hotter throughout the KSN Viewing Area. We have definitely had a haze in the air and some reduced air quality as a result of the smoke.

Our Fire and Smoke Tracker is showing thick smoke throughout much of the Sunflower State. It is the reason why we have seen fiery sunrises and sunsets as well. Progressing further into the future, as this high builds east, so will more smoke. As long as these fire continue to burn west of us, the impacts here at home will be felt.

Have a great day!

-Meteorologist T.J. Springer

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