The Bay Area in California awoke Wednesday to a scene straight out of Mars.
Orange and even red skies blanketed San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and ash rained down, with wildfires raging far in the distance.
"When the smoke and ash get even thicker close to the wildfires, it can cut the sunlight out completely, making it look like the dead of night," CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said.
Residents turned on lights, looking into a rust-colored sky that made it look like nighttime. Winds are carrying the wildfire smoke from afar. Both the Creek Fire and the North Complex Fire are burning more than 200 miles away, yet their presence could be felt in the Bay Area. Other places, such as Salem, Oregon, are experiencing similar apocalyptic glows.
The massive plumes of smoke generated by the wildfires raging across California have led to the longest stretch of unhealthy air quality alerts on record in the Bay Area, with 25 straight days of "Spare the Air" alerts, Erin DeMerritt, Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokeswoman, told CNN. The previous record was 14 consecutive days during the 2018 Camp Fire.
"The smoke and ash are acting like nature's version of an Instagram filter," Jones said. "The particles in the air are refracting sunlight similar to the way small air particles do when the sun sets or rises."
The particles scatter the shorter wavelengths of blue and green, making us unable to see them. The longer wavelengths of red and yellow pass through the bottom, giving us this "haunting" effect, Jones said.