Distant sands, smoke create haze in Alaska sky

From: Anchorage Daily News

The cloudy, off-white haze crept into Anchorage over the weekend, obscuring the once-crisp view of the Chugach Mountains with a smog-like quality more akin to a view of the Los Angeles skyline.

But that gunk in our air isn’t from car exhausts. Instead, smoke from Russian wildfires and dust kicked up during sandstorms in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert are to blame, according to state and federal atmospheric officials. …

Local dust kicked up by vehicles or construction can contribute to low-altitude air problems, but it generally doesn’t rise enough to obscure mountains, Guay said. For that to happen, high winds are needed to fling dust into the air, he said. …

“This is actually fairly normal,” she said. “Pretty much every spring, we get a huge amount of dust from the Gobi Desert. Some years we get more dust than others. This is definitely a worse year.” …

This year, dust is only half the problem. Massive wildfires spanning a huge swath of southern Siberia in the Russian Far East broke out last week, contributing smoke to the mix and worsening an unusually dusty spring, Albanese said. One can’t smell the smoke because of its lofty position in the sky, he said.

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