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Haze winds up in Rapid City by catching a ride on the jet stream from a California fire

The Caldor Fire burning Aug. 26
The Caldor Fire burning Aug. 26(Sara Nevis/The Sacramento Bee via AP)
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 10:40 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Throughout the summer, the Hills have been affected by haze and smoke that’s been drifting in from other states.

The fires can be partially attributed to drought conditions impacting the western part of the country.

You may have noticed the smoke one sneeze at a time. You can even see it taking shape spread across the hazy hills. Where it’s coming from? The west coast.

Meteorologist Jacob Montesano says, “I’m not surprised at all, because if you look at the drought monitor in California it is just absolutely terrible. Most of the area is under extreme, maybe exceptional drought.”

Montesano says the jet stream, which almost always blows from west to east, aids the haze to drift into the Hills from across the Country.

He says that we saw more smoke earlier on in the summer, attributed to fire danger changing and becoming less severe with the seasons.

“The wildfires aren’t as severe as they were in the middle of the summer, because as we get into the fall they’re going to become less severe. But, we’re still dealing with the big wildfire out in California. We’re still seeing the haze across our area,” says Montesano.

As for the Hills, Montesano says there’s one very small portion of Pennington County that saw more rainfall, “Other than that, we’ve only seen places going into a more severe drought across our area.”

The Northern part of the state, particularly Harding, Butte, Meade and Perkins counties are now experiencing extreme drought compared to what was listed as a lower ranking, severe drought, last week. Much of the increase, however, didn’t occur in the Hills.

“A lot of time there are these pop up showers in the Hills, which is exactly why the Black Hills haven’t seen as much drought. But, as you get into the Fall,” Montesano says, “that doesn’t really happen as much.”

He foresees a bit of rain in the upcoming forecast, but a dry Labor Day weekend.

“So, hopefully the rain events we’re getting these next couple days are very widespread. It does seem like Rapid City specifically has been missing out on the heavy rains towards the later part of the summer. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a continue of the drought monitory getting worse,” says Montesano.

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