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That Week When Russia Turned Oregon Coast Skies Orange, Red

Published 01/30/2019 at 2:53 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

That Week When Russia Turned Oregon Coast Skies Orange, Red

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(Oregon Coast) – In mid April of 2015, the Oregon coast experienced a run of oddly reddish, orange skies. In fact, so did much of Oregon. But on the coastline, it meant for extra intense sunsets, and yet something was slightly off-kilter about these colors as well. (Above: unusual reds along the Otter Crest Loop as the day neared its end).

It’s fascinating what weather or conditions nearly a world away can do to this area. And vice versa, of course.

Back then, it was wildfires in Russia that were hazing up coastal skies and sunsets, along with some dust from a huge storm in China.

The fires were taking place in the southeastern Siberian region of Khakassia, where more than 60 villages had been destroyed, over 5,000 left homeless and more than 33 dead. Various video and photos of the scenes had an apocalyptic look full of thick smoke and skies literally on fire. Something that was creepily echoed here in the U.S. in subsequent years.

A second blaze that broke out near that area later in the week is worsening the situation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has a computerized weather tracking system called the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), and a blog about data from the network. For several days the agency had been focused on these plumes as they crossed the Pacific.


The smoke layers were first spotted over the Pacific on April 15. NWS scientists later pieced together various images and saw its movements from Russia to China, out into the ocean, and then eventually to the Pacific Northwest.

Later, even more of it was becoming apparent, according to the NWS blog at the time.

“You can see the main plume on the borders of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho, with some smoke moving into central Canada,” the NWS wrote that week. “The plume has stayed surprisingly intact (and rather intense). You can also see hints of a big plume over Alaska (unfortunately, one of the areas we don't have a lot of OMPS data for today). And you can see a narrow plume wafting all the way across the Pacific.”

What resulted was fiery skies all over the region, including Portland, the Oregon coast, Seattle and even Idaho.

Meteorologists at the time said particulates had likely cooled temperatures here by as much as two degrees. That week, they had been forecasting record temperatures, but it didn’t happen.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection documented the weekend’s sights.

There was a discernible haze from the fires on that Saturday and Sunday, but central coast towns like Depoe Bay and Lincoln City were experiencing a slight fog on top of it all. The real evidence arrived at dusk on both days. Saturday's sunset become a muddled pink, while Sunday's was notoriously red and fiery just about everywhere on the West Coast.

The results on that Sunday time were especially striking and startling. Although you may not have thought much of it if you hadn’t been paying attention to the news at the time. Along the Otter Crest Loop, as sunset approached, things turned a deep but fuzzy red and pink. At the Devil’s Punchbowl, the sky was a deep orange with a variety of reds mixed in. As the blue hour commenced, those minutes just after sunset, the sky got that signature blue but a little paler this time, with stranger reds and orange splashed across the horizon.

Of course subsequent wildfires in Oregon, Washington and California made that incident pale in comparison. Worse was the choking smoke that was hard to get away from, even on the beaches. Unfortunately, thanks to climate change, these situations are likely to be the new normal during summers in Oregon. Oregon Coast Lodgings in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

More of these images from that weekend below:





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