Farms in Central America influenced weather in Texas

The big heat dominated the weather headlines over the weekend, but you might have noticed some haze in the air, too.  

Hazy, hot, and humid are par for the course in central Texas, especially during the summer months. But if you thought the brilliant, red sunsets looked a little smokey you'd be right. The weather over the weekend felt like summer, just with a touch of smokey haze from farms in Central America.  

Farmers burning fields to clear brush and return nutrients to the soil is a common practice across the globe. In this case, there was so much smoke released from the fires that it could be seen on satellite wafting over the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. That's where the major weather system of the weekend took over.

A huge area of high pressure has been parked over the Gulf of Mexico for the past several days. It's so big that it reaches all the way into the tropics. With help from the tropical Easterlies, the winds are blowing the smoke all the way from as far south as Nicaragua right up into central Texas. That helped bring hazy conditions to the state throughout the weekend.

Smoke is made up of what are called hydrophilic particles. That means it's very easy for water to condense onto their surfaces. In doing so, the particles expand to many times their original size. And though they're still extremely tiny, the sheer number of particles means they can create a haze when they run into the high humidity central Texas knows and loves.

The good news is the smoke was diffuse enough that it never produced any issues on the ground. Any sniffles you may have had were much more likely from the high grass pollen. The biggest impact the smoke had was slightly limited early morning visibility and making sunsets a vibrant, orange-red.