Photos show eerie orange sky over California’s Bay Area as devastating wildfires rage

Residents in California’s Bay Area woke up to ominous orange skies on Wednesday as out-of-control wildfires continued to rage in the northern half of the state.

Smoke and ash from the fires had cast a rust-coloured hue across the San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley areas.

(Photo by Burak Arik/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Locals shared images of the early-morning sky on social media, with many remarking how it looked like it was still night.

Peter Gleick, a California-based climate scientist, shared photos of the dark sky on Twitter shortly after 8 a.m. local time.

“The sun’s been up for an hour and a half,” he wrote.

San Francisco resident Aamir Vaid said he cancelled plans to have lunch downtown because of the dark sky.

Vaid told the Associated Press it felt “strange and ominous outside.”

“It feels like I should be in bed sleeping.”

(Photo by Burak Arik/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Creek and North Complex wildfires are burning more than 300 km north of San Francisco, but strong winds have carried smoke to the Bay Area.

In a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Bay Area Air Quality district meteorologist Jarrett Claiborne explained the phenomenon, saying visible sunlight is a combination of all the colours of the rainbow.

“When we have particles in the air, those can act as filters and can scatter certain colours out,” he explained. “With smoke, for example, that’s filtering out other colours allowing red, orange and yellow to reach the surface.”

“That’s why we have those colours this morning,” he said.

According to Claiborne, by morning much of the smoke was above the thanks to a “marine layer,” but that it was expected to make it to the ground level in some areas by the afternoon.

(Photo by Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Erin DeMeritt, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, told CNN the massive plumes of smoke generated by the wildfires raging across the state have led to the longest stretch of unhealthy air quality alerts on record in the Bay Area.

There have now been 25 straight days of “Spare the Air” alerts, DeMerritt said.

The current alert has been extended until Friday.

What’s more, Drew Peterson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area, told The Associated Press that the smoke blocked out so much sunlight on Wednesday that a forecast for temperatures to climb to 32C dipped to 15.5C.

Peterson said it is as if the area is in a “perpetual morning without the sun to help us warm up.”

In a tweet just before 7 p.m. local time in California, the National Weather Service San Francisco Bay Area shared a picture of the “sunset,” showing a still-orange sky.

Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed eight people, destroyed more than 3,600 structures, burned old growth redwoods, charred chaparral and forced evacuations in communities near the coast, in wine country and along the Sierra Nevada.

Currently, more than two dozen fires are burning in the state.

So far, the state has seen 7,606 fires in 2020, with more than 2.3 million acres burned, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

With files from the Associated Press

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