Today when I woke up there was fog in the air and it smelled like smoke, I thought the fog was water vapor since the temperature was 47‎°C ( I know that's crazy hot), but then when I saw the weather forecast it turned out that the weather is “smokey” today!

I didn't even know that there was such thing as smokey weather, I don't think there were any major fires that occurred last night, the city where I live is pretty much a dry desert, there are no mountains and not many plants, there are rivers however, what's strange is that it's never happened before, so what could cause that? Is the city starting to smoke due to high temperature? Is it the smoke of factories? Is it oil vapor(I don't think smoke and oil vapor are the same thing) ?

  • $\begingroup$ Note that when we click on the forecast, it gives us the one for our city. And so we don't know what city/area you're talking about. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2022 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Usually smokey will come from observations of smoke... which tend to mean there was a fire somewhere (fog is a separate category, as is haze, which is more of the value for pollution). There are places known as being "smokey", such as the Smokey Mountains in the US... but they rarely smell much like actual smoke. Various apps can have their own little quirks in how they indicate things too. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2022 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ There was one forest fire in Northern Quebec that was so large, we got its smoke 1500 miles to the south. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Jun 24, 2022 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


One possible cause will be an inversion.

Normally, air temperature decreases with an increase in altitude, but during an inversion warmer air is held above cooler air.

An inversion traps air pollution, such as smog, close to the ground. An inversion can also suppress convection by acting as a "cap".

Cities especially suffer from the effects of temperature inversions because they both produce more atmospheric pollutants and have higher thermal masses than rural areas, resulting in more frequent inversions with higher concentrations of pollutants. The effects are even more pronounced when a city is surrounded by hills or mountains since they form an additional barrier to air circulation.


Smokey weather may be caused by normal atmospheric flows when smoke enters the air.

In the last couple years around this time I have seen smoke arrive in the air over Chicago after being carried eastwards from wildfires in the Western United States. The air does not smell like smoke, but it becomes hazy as the particles absorb/diffuse light. It's especially noticeable when conditions are otherwise dry and cloudless.


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