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What was behind that unusually colorful sunset last night?

Here’s how Tuesday’s sunset looked from the Observer’s offices in uptown Charlotte.
Here’s how Tuesday’s sunset looked from the Observer’s offices in uptown Charlotte. tlonefight@charlotteobserver.com

You may have noticed something a little different during Tuesday’s sunset across the Charlotte region.

Before the sky turned dark, there were shades of yellow, red and orange up above.

As some noted, it was as if Mother Nature had added her own Instagram filter to the sky.

It turns out that the colorful sky was partly the result of smoke drifting from large wildfires in Canada. Really.

Jonathan Blaes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, says it’s not unusual for smoke from a wildfire to affect areas far away. The West Coast, for example, has had smoke drift in from Siberia. Last night, Blaes said a weather service report described that remnant smoke from the fires in Canada could be seen in several states, including North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

As the setting sunlight filtered through the smoke and dust, the yellow, orange and red colors look more vivid.

“It was an unusual phenomenon that led to the extra special sunsets that you had,” Blaes said.

Brad Panovich, meteorologist from NBC Charlotte, tweeted that storms outside of the Charlotte region also contributed to the look of the sunset.

So are we in for a repeat tonight? It’s too early to tell. Blaes said satellite shows the Charlotte region is on the fringe of the smoke remnant, so any change in wind direction could change how much of it drifts into the area. Check out today’s forecast at http://bit.ly/1JKSujC

Still, you may want to keep your camera nearby.

April Bethea: 704-358-6013. On Twitter: @AprilBethea

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