Smoke From Forest Fire Spreads Throughout Central Jersey

We’ve gotten many questions about the smoke across central and northern NJ tonight. This smoke is originating from the Spring Hill Forest Fire in Penn State Forest in Burlington County.

The smoke smell is particularly strong at the surface due to a nocturnal inversion. If you’ve ever burned some food in the kitchen and then had to either open windows and/or turn on fans to disperse the smoke, there is a similar concept going on here. When an inversion is in place (that means temperatures are actually increasing with height) then any air and other particles below the inversion are then trapped below the inversion. As a result, the air near the surface can’t mix with air higher up or be dispersed by the stronger winds above the inversion. Consequently, for those areas just downstream of the fire, the smoke smell is very noticeable, and visibility may even be reduced by smoke. If you do notice any reduced visibility, please report it here! We would greatly appreciate it!

The good news is that conditions should improve later this morning as we first have a chance for showers shortly after daybreak, and by late this morning a cold front will shift winds to off shore.