WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 23, 2013, 06:16 PM

Answers to the haze and smoke from Thursday

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Where did that haze and smokey smell come from? And why did it blanket our downtowns?

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We have some answers to the question that haunted a good part of the metro overnight.

Where did that haze and smokey smell come from? And why did it blanket our downtowns?

Dispatchers tell us close to 170 people called in a matter of two hours, concerned about the smoke.

In Oakport township today, what remained of an old tree line finished burning. Area farmer John Jones is still shaking his head over all the commotion surrounding and early evening burn of some rotten trees.

John Jones- Clay Co. Farmer: "When we started with the process, it was going right into the sky, just what it was supposed to be."

What happened is kind of crazy. Shortly after dinner last night, smoke began creeping into downtown Fargo-Moorhead. It was strong at times: Campfire to the power of 5.

Kelsey Hennesy- Smelled Smoke" "It smelled like campfire, kind of gross."

Zach Johnson- Smelled Smoke: "We were sitting at Rhombus on the roof and

having dinner and I noticed and smelled something and there was a haze, wasn't sure if it was fire or fog."

But Jones did nothing wrong here.

Bill Bergquist- Clay Co. Sheriff: "Has permit to burn and did everything right. But that night, for some reason, the smoke held low."

Actually, it was a perfect night for a burn: Wind was light, no humidity, but then...

Jones: "It was doing what it was supposed to, but then an inversion."

Jones is entirely right: An inversion moved in last night. When the air at the surface is cooler than the air above, the air gets trapped. Think of it as a big sheet of cellophane, trapping all that smoke over the metro.

Jones: "My wife was like, 'Where were you? I thought you went to Rhombus.'"

A little bit of science that got in the way of a simple smokey fire.

Our crack weather team says, in fact, inversion happens almost every morning of the year.