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Why forecasting wildfire smoke is becoming more and more important

Who likes the haze from wildfire smoke? Nobody - that's who! Our own storm chaser/meteorologist is here to help us understand why we might see more and more of it.

Everyone in Colorado is probably a little tired of wildfire smoke hanging over our towns and our mountain views, but it could become a more frequent issue for our state moving forward.

Research shows that wildfire smoke days are expected to rise in frequency, intensity, and duration going into the future.

Forecasting wildfire smoke movement and intensity is becoming a very important science that is getting a lot of attention with new research and technology.

RESEARCH: A new research project, devoted to wildfire smoke behavior in the atmosphere, is being conducted in the Pacific Northwest this summer. Colorado State University is heading up the project named the Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption, and Nitrogen (WE-CAN).

TECHNOLOGY: Advancements in satellite technology are improving our ability to forecast where the smoke headed, and how thick it will be. Satellite cameras have been providing credible detail of our smoke covered country.

A series of older satellites are combining with the new GOES-16 satellite to provide this detail. Another weather satellite could be added to the mix in September. The GOES-17 was launched in March 2018 and is still in the testing phase. Despite some trouble with one of its imagers, NASA still believes the satellite will be made operational soon.

Computer Modeling: All the new data is improving our computer forecast models. An experimental smoke forecast has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately.

It is getting rendered by computer once every hour by the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model. It does show some brief clearing over Colorado, but the next big blob of wildfire smoke is expected to arrive sometime late Thursday night into Friday morning.