MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Every year on the 4th of July, we often experience a lot of smoke lingering in the air from the fireworks. You may have noticed that it takes a long time for it to lift out or dissipate. That's due to a phenomenon that is pretty common on summer nights called a temperature inversion.
Here's what happens:
On a typical summer day, the sun heats up the surface and that hot air rises into the "less hot" air higher in the atmosphere. The wind is stronger during the day and helps mix the air throughout the atmosphere, keeping any smoke or particles from becoming a big problem.
On a typical summer night, the warmer air from the day time lifts higher into the atmosphere and the "less hot" or slightly cooler air gets trapped at or near the surface. That means anything in that pool of air is also trapped within the first couple of thousand feet from the surface whether it is smoke from a fire or from fireworks, or any other particles in the atmosphere. The smoke lingers around until the next day when it usually mixes out or is spread back into the upper levels of the atmosphere.
If you have any asthma issues, you may want to limit your outdoor activities or viewing the next couple of evenings.
Have a happy and safe 4th of July!