Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kachemak (Smoky) Bay

A couple evenings ago as I was out for a walk I noticed a deep brown haze covering the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay. It wasn't gray like fog it was brown like smog, and it was in a distinct line like it was just blowing in. I was wondering if maybe the fires that were recently burning near the Russian villages by the head of the bay were getting out of hand. 

I didn't think much more about it till yesterday morning when I woke up and the first thing I noticed is that the sun was blood red behind a thick haze, and I couldn't see more than a mile or two. Not even the bay was visible. There was a hint of smokey smell. I was a little more worried now so I Googled "Homer" and "fire", but didn't get any hits. Next I hopped on Facebook since nothing can happen around Homer that someone doesn't comment on. There I got my answer.

A wildfire was getting out of control near Funny River Road in Soldotna, 1 1/2 hours to the north of us. A wind from the north was funneling the smoke right down to Homer. The fire started fairly small on Monday, but by Tuesday morning was 1 mile wide by 7 miles long.  By Tuesday evening it was a raging 7000 acre wildfire. Luckily it was in a wilderness area so no homes were threatened.

It threw our lives just a little out of kilter. All high school sports practices were cancelled or held indoors Tuesday. People were told to stay inside since air quality was so poor. There was some ash flying about, but nothing substantial. And it actually got a little bit dark (rare at this time of year). By evening a wind came up and started clearing things out and we were able to see the bay and then the mountains again.

One of Denver's teacher's gave them a little history lesson. Apparently "Kachemak" means "Smoky" and was named just for this phenomena. When fires occur the cold water of Kachemak Bay acts as a magnet and the smoke settles over the water. Reading on Facebook, friends who live at higher elevations locally had sunny skies while we were socked in all day with smoke nearer Homer. I thought that was an interesting tidbit.

Today, though the fire is still going, there is no hint of smoke in Homer. When I went outside this morning there was a light dusting of ash. I am very, very happy to have the smoke gone! I like being able to enjoy the great outdoors. Weather can be dressed for but it is harder to avoid bad air.

1 comment:

MichelleW said...

I have to eat my words...the smoke was back. The fire is up to 20,000 acres now but the wind had shifted so it wasn't coming into Homer until yesterday evening when a haze covered the bay again and the visibility was down.

Now, Thursday morning, there's a little haze over the mountains, but otherwise the air is clear.