Ketchikan residents taken aback by odd, swarming 'green fog'

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005

KETCHIKAN - Ketchikan residents are abuzz over a "green fog" that blew through town, prompting calls to police and a bit of speculation.

The light yellow-green cloud, as some described it, turned out to be pollen suddenly picked up by the wind as it was being released from trees.

"It was kind of alarming," said Dan Patton, who was at the athletic field behind Ketchikan High School to watch his daughter play softball Sunday afternoon. "Suddenly we look over and see, from the vantage point of sitting at Dudley Field, this green fog or green smoke, drifting in a very dense pattern across the mountains."

Patton said the apparition also came between the high school and the pool building, and that's when he decided to report it.

Bob Weinstein, who was at the field to watch the same ball game, remembered the wind changing suddenly.

"A giant green cloud went overhead," he said. "We were wondering what it was."

Ketchikan police received a half dozen phone calls about the pollen release. The reports, said Lt. Paul Bruening, were of "a yellowish green cloud." At least one caller reported the cloud as smoke. That was forwarded to the fire department.

Ketchikan High School biology teacher D. Jay O'Brien was out on a "paddling adventure" with his children near Point Higgins Sunday afternoon, and one of his daughters had a view of the hillside.

"My 7-year-old said, 'What's that green stuff?"' O'Brien said Monday. "When I looked over there, it was just this mass release of pine pollen."

O'Brien said he's never seen anything like it.

"All I can figure is, we had those warm temperatures and there was a lot of maturation going on," he said. "We had very calm weather for the day and a half leading up to it, right before that southerly blew in."

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