Siberia wildfire smoke could remain over Alaska for weeks

Smoke (in yellow) coming from wildfires in Siberia on July 29, 2020. (Image from Division of Forestry Twitter)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Wildfire smoke from Siberia has moved into Southcentral Alaska and left a haze lingering over the region that the National Weather Service said could remain for weeks.

The agency said smoke from the fires began spreading over Alaska in early July, The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

Until the fires in Russia stop, the haze will likely continue, although the duration is difficult to predict, said Patrick Doll of the National Weather Service’s Anchorage office.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued well into the month of August and perhaps even early September,” Doll said.

Fires have burned almost nonstop in the Arctic Circle since April. NASA reported fires in Siberia and eastern Russia have released a record-breaking amount of carbon into the atmosphere as peat soils burn.

Thunderstorms from the northern Siberian coast through the Kamchatka Peninsula about a month ago caused multiple lightning strikes resulting in wildfires. Winds over the last few weeks have caused smoke from those fires to drift east into Alaska, Doll said.

Doll said the smoke appears to be “fanning out,” moving down into the Matanuska-Susitna Valleys and Copper Basin, and east through Deadhorse and into the Yukon, he said.

The Alaska Division of Forestry said in a social media post Wednesday there have been reports of the haze from Anchorage, Homer and the Copper River Valley.

There are expected to be periodic improvements in Alaska assisted by weather fronts resulting in wind, while rainfall will also temporarily help clear the skies, Doll said.

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