Russia wildfires push smoke to Alaska

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Massive wildfires in southern Russia have pushed smoke more than 3,000 miles to Alaska.

The result is hazy conditions at high altitudes over much of the state and a spectacular sunrise Wednesday.

"This smoke plume is five times the size of California. It's huge," Glenn Shaw, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "There are big blobs of smoke that are larger than the country of Japan."

The fires, located in the Lake Baikal region just north of the Russian border with Mongolia, have been burning since about May 1, said Shaw. About 600 fires have burned more than 250,000 acres.

The smoke isn't noticeable on the ground because it is at such a high altitude and the particles are so small. But there have been reports of smoky, hazy conditions at altitudes of 6,000 feet and higher, Shaw said.

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