Last week a tongue of smoke from the large forest fires that affected the US crossed the peninsula and reached the Balearic Islands.

Photo from Sept. 9 showing thick smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California.

The smoke from the fires in California (USA), which has been seen in recent days in the Balearic Islands, although also in other areas of Europe, is not strange, although it is a curiosity, which is due to the dimensions of the fires and the interaction of the smoke at high altitude with the polar jet that runs through the planet.

Being fires so powerful, the smoke rises a lot and reaches several kilometers high, as in this case in which when interacting with the polar jet that circulates around the planet, it has moved from California to Europe, as explained to the Efe agency Juan José Villena, an expert in meteorology of the service Meteored.

Smoke from California fires has reached a tremendous height, predictably on the order of 7 to 10 kilometers and even higher and “Has entered the polar jet, which is a current of air that circulates from west to east at about 250 kilometers per hour more or less ”.

“It is not something strange, but a curiosity”, that the smoke has reached Europe, where it has left interesting images “with that grayish appearance” in the sky, for example in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, and in other parts of the center of the continent, also in the British Isles, before reaching the Cantabrian area to be channeled through the Ebro to the Balearic Islands.

Large plumes of smoke from fires as important as those in California, which have already devastated about a million hectares in forested areas, “they can last a long time floating in the air” and travel thousands and thousands of kilometers around the planet.

These types of forest fires, which also occur elsewhere, are estimated to emit throughout the year up to three million tons of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane. In the case of smoke coming to Europe from California, the concentrations are small, scarce and very high, so there are no risks, explains the expert.

It is common for the smoke to travel thousands of kilometers when fires are powerful, the aforementioned meteorological expert has insisted, as has already happened with those from Siberia, whose smoke was seen in the US, or those of Australia, which reached parts of South America.

The fear of what might come

Since most fires started in mid-August, more than about thirty people have died in the three states on the west coast of the US – California, Oregon and Washington – tens of thousands of residents are still evacuated and several people are missing.

The multiple fires emanate huge amounts of smoke that cover practically all of the skies in the region, and cities such as Portland (Oregon), Seattle (Washington) and San Francisco (California) this Sunday dominated the list of metropolitan areas with the worst air quality in the world.

Most of the fires broke out on the weekend of August 15 due to a unusual thunderstorm in the region in which more than 10,000 lightning strikes struck, and since then the dryness, strong winds and high temperatures have caused them to spread at high speed.One of the aspects that most concern the authorities is that this situation is occurring when it has not yet reached October and November, which traditionally constitute the “season” of fires in California, so that in the coming months the Circumstances could get even worse.