Cold, data driven, observable reality-based forecasts are what make a reliable weather prediction. (Also checking in closely with the pros at NWS, The Weather Channel, etc.) Hopes, fears, and superstitions work against an accurate forecast. Too much optimism in a forecast can put people in danger. Too much alarm can make people stop paying attention. I know this, but when it comes to wildfires in the summer, I really can't help letting hope get the better of me. Long-time readers may have noticed that I always tend to ignore that old familiar smoky haze when it first shows up in our skies each summer.

 

smoke 2016

Smoke plumes over Teton Valley from the 2016 Tie Canyon Fire on Pine Creek Pass.

 

Maybe it’s just dust kicked up by the wind. Maybe it’s just bleary eyes after too much fun last night. Anything but wildfire smoke again. So, I usually don’t mention it until people start asking about it, or it gets so thick I can’t see the screen.

 

It’s the river in Egypt. Some are in denial when the first flakes of snow begin to work their way down from the mountains. Some are in denial when those rocks start poking up on their favorite ski hill. For me, it’s those first few puffs of smoke that I choose not to see. Not just because of the discomfort and ugliness it brings to us, but because I know it represents tragedy happening upwind.

 

Smoke and Sunset 2016

Deceptively beautiful sunset in late August of 2016 during the Tie Canyon Fire on Pine Creek Pass.

 

For this lapse in hard scientific observation, I apologize. Please keep asking when you see that smoke and snap me out of it. And if that doesn’t work, you can always go to the AirNow.gov web site and click on the Fire and Smoke Map. It will give you the unvarnished truth about the fires and smoke in your area.