KPIX 5 Morning Weather Anchor Roberta Gonzales answers the questions you never get to ask on-air.

Q: Roberta what’s behind the amazing sunsets we’ve been seeing lately? – Bill in San Rafael.

A: Some people have been crediting the state’s damaging wildfires for the amazing sunsets we’ve been seeing across the state recently, but that’s not the whole story.

The smoke from fires currently burning through out the state is considered an “airborne pollutant,” and those pollutants can certainly contribute to the reddish glow of our sunrises and sunsets. That is odd when you stop and think – a pollutant can contribute to a glorious view. But what we are really experiencing here in the Bay Area, is clouds (most are altocumulus) drifting into our region, in advancement of subtropical moisture. This plume has a fetch reaching as far into the ocean as the Hawaiian Islands! (You can almost “smell” the pineapple!)

Without becoming too complex, altocumulus are mid level clouds, so really they are in the best position in the sky as the sunrises and sets. As sunlight “colors” spread throughout the sky and bounce off the clouds, you toss in wind changes (wind shear) in the mid level atmosphere, you have the main ingredients and recipe for a beautiful sunrise and sunset. Some clouds take on a “ripple” effect, others like “rolling waves”.

Here are a few of the best local pictures we’ve spotted from around the web.

And one I spotted myself…

I would love to hear from you! Please send weather questions, observations and photos to me, Gonzales@kpix.cbs.com and I look forward to hearing from you!

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