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Smoke from California wildfire causes red sun, potential drop in Valley temperature

The Apple Fire has burned more than 12,000 acres as of Sunday morning, officials said.
Credit: NWS

PHOENIX — A large amount of smoke from a California wildfire affected the skies of Arizona on Sunday, causing a red-colored sun and a potential drop in temperatures. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Phoenix tweeted out a gif showing the movement of smoke from the Apple Fire, which has burned more than 12,000 acres in southern California, into Arizona.

The smoke, according to the satellite image loop, looked to be affecting the skies of cities across the state.

Smoke from prescribed burns, wood-burning stoves, or wildfires like the Apple Fire creates an effect called "smoke inversion," according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Usually, temperatures get cooler as they get farther from the earth's surface. However, an inversion is created when there is a layer of air that is hotter than it is on the ground. 

The smoke from the wildfire is doing just that. But, the main difference between smoke inversions and other inversions is that the smoke layer makes the inversion even stronger.

Inversions can potentially impact many things related to an area's weather. The smoke inversion above the Valley, for instance, may bring cooler temperatures with it as it blocks the sun.

"The smoke in the atmosphere today will cool us off just a little bit," NWS Meteorologist James Sawtelle said. "We were originally going for a high of 111 to 113 degrees for the Phoenix Valley, but now we've revised it to 109 to 111 degrees."

The smoke also caused a different looking sun this morning, with many 12 News viewers sending in pictures of a red sun early Sunday morning. 

Inversions can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. However, with the Apple Fire still burning strong at 0% containment, Arizonans may be seeing the inversion above their heads for a while.