Monday, August 21, 2017

Smoke on the Eclipse

Hopefully, lots of you got out to enjoy the eclipse today. As we were watching the eclipse from our Atmospheric Science campus in Fort Collins, we were looking around at how much the sunlight was dimmed. We saw that there was definitely some smoke visible to the north as shown in the following pictures. The second photo was taken during the maximum eclipse time here.

Looking north from the Atmospheric Science Building in Fort Collins, CO at 11:16 AM and 11:46 PM.

 The Colorado Department of Public Health had this smoke advisory out (
Monday, August 21, 2017, 2:30 PM MDT

Smoke from wildfires in the northwest United States and western Canada is being transported into Colorado. The influence of this smoke is expected to produce areas of haze, particularly in northern Colorado, however these conditions are possible throughout the state. Significant health impacts are not anticipated, however, unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion on Monday and Tuesday. 

Light to moderate smoke is also possible near prescribed fires and small wildfires around the state. 

Unfortunately, the Fort Collins PM monitor does not appear to have any data available since Saturday morning, so I cannot tell you what the impact is on surface air quality here in Fort Collins. The Greeley monitor does show PM concentrations that were elevated (especially overnight), but there's been lots of variability, so it's difficult to tell if wildfire smoke is the culprit.
PM2.5 concentrations at the Greeley Hospital for 18th August- 21st August, 2017. Data from:
And this is what the MODIS satellite image looked like (the overpass was right during the eclipse!):
MODIS Terra True Color Image from August 21st, 2017. Retrieved from
But, never fear, we can still look to the HMS product! The HMS smoke and fire product did show that we are getting some smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest. The plume seems to be covering much of northern Colorado, so it could definitely be influencing the surface air quality!

Again, happy "eclipse of the century" day. Hope you enjoyed it and kept your eyes safe!

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