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Here’s what Idaho’s smoky summer would’ve looked like from outer space

A NASA data visualization shows heavy smoke hanging over Idaho during summer 2017.
A NASA data visualization shows heavy smoke hanging over Idaho during summer 2017.

In late August and early September, the Treasure Valley was walloped by an influx of smoke from wildfires across the West, making it hard to breathe.

In November, NASA released a visualization compiled from outer space satellite data that shows just how socked-in our region really was — and how far all that smoke ultimately spread. The data, collected from Aug. 1 to Nov. 1, shows aerosol particles such as sea salt particles from tropical storms, dust from desert storms and, of course, smoke particles.

“The first thing that is noticeable is how far the particles can travel. Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest gets caught in a weather pattern and pulled all the way across the US and over to Europe,” NASA wrote in a post accompanying the data visualization.

For much of the video, a dense cloud of smoke spirals around Idaho, offering a new perspective of the tiny smoke particles that at times were so dense they obscured the Boise Foothills from view. At the same time, it’s possible to follow the development of multiple hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean that devastated Cuba, Texas and other areas.

The point of the map is to allow scientists to see how currents carry particles across the globe, according to NASA.

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