The Day the Bay Area Sky Went Orange Red

The Bay Area woke up to a collective “WTF is happening” yesterday morning, making today’s grey smokey sky a grim sigh of relief. Was it finally the apocalypse? Cue an earthquake, a tsunami or tornado. Nope, it was not the apocalypse, it was a simple perfect [fire] storm of events. Despite the unease, many people were posting photos of images that, let’s hope, we never see again. We have been collecting the most striking photos of the day from Instagram — if you have one to share, please dm or tag us in yours @marinmagazine.

What Happened? 

If you are still wondering WTF that was, here’s a quick recap of what two of our local newspapers called a nuclear winter. First, in Amy Graff’s SFGate article with the phrase in the title she wrote, “The reddened sky cast a sepia tone and made the world outside look like Mars or a scene from the 1982 dystopian sci-fi film Blade Runner.”

In the Mercury News article titled, It’s kind of like nuclear winter, Nico Savidge and Rich Hurd wrote, “In a phenomenon never before seen at such a scale, wildfires are changing the weather of an entire region, meteorologists said. And with 28 major fires burning in California alone, forecasters don’t know when it will end.” 

Adrian Rodriquez of the Marin Independent Journal, reports that smoke and haze will linger. “We’re so smoked in that it’s creating insulation,” National Weather Service meteorologist Cindy Palmer said, explaining that temperatures are much lower than what was in the forecast. “We’re still under a blanket.”  

Worried about going outside? Check in on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for the latest. 

Here are some of the most jaw-dropping images we’ve spotted so far on Instagram.


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#runtippirun #birdsoftheapocalypse

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What a strange day we had yesterday. Some people asked what some of the scenes I shared in my stories look like on a regular basis so I thought I would show some of the Orange Wednesday shots alongside a normal SF day shot. Thankfully today seems better in that it actually feels like daytime outside though we still have smoke in the air. Oddly enough the smoke is apparently coming from the Oregon fires. According to the local meteorologist, the smoke is being pushed to the Pacific Ocean and ending up in our weather pattern. Yesterday, the SF marine later kept the smoke from entering our atmosphere (yay) but deflected the sun, giving us the apocalyptic scenes we experienced most of the day. Today, we are back to fog and cooler temperatures. Say some prayers for those fighting the fires. True heroes. Stay strong, California! 💗🧡💗 Swipe for a few comparisons of my @presidiosf shots. F I R E 🥵 #orangewednesday #orangesf #beforeandafter #apocalypse #2020 #2020wontstop #2020wontbreakus #thankyoufortheweatherreport @mikenicco @abc7newsbayarea @sfgate @bayarea_buzz @7x7bayarea #sfgate #bayarea #sfbayarea #bayareabuzz #7x7bayarea #istillheartsf #iheartsf #sf #sanfrancisco #california #norcal #prayforcalifornia #cawildfires #wildfires #oregonwildfires

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This was taken mid day 9/9/20. Our marine layer helped trap particles from the wildfires which gave off this orange/red glow all day long. Quite an interesting day to experience 🧡

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“Apocalypse Now” – UNEDITED Taken just an hour ago before my swim. This iPhone photo, completely unedited, showing our beautiful and terrifying apocalyptic orange morning. Swimming was the weirdest feeling… every time I did a flip turn, as I rotated over I caught the FLASH of orange light. It was like I was an action movie hero who jumped into the water right before an explosion and got to look up and see it burn overhead. September 9, 2020 Terra Linda Community Pool iPhone XR, unedited #orangesky #redsky #smokyskies #smokysky #pool #swimmingpool #apocalypse #apocalypsenow #sfgate #abc7eyewitness #ktvu2 #nbcbayarea #visitmarin #marinmagazine #marinij #sfbayarea #bayarea #smoke #smokysunrise

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Happy California Statehood Day. 🐻 I didn’t think the sky could outdo yesterday’s sickly yellow, but today it is apocalyptic orange. (It was red when I woke up.) That, coupled with everything else that’s going on, is conspiring to imbue the world with an exceedingly dark malaise. 💨 In straight meteorological terms, wind is pushing southward on smoke plumes from numerous large wildfires in California and Oregon, and those plumes are blocking the sun. A marine layer of cool air from the Pacific Ocean is trapping the smoky air high in the atmosphere, where it lingers. What else is causing this? Climate change, sprawl, mismanagement (of the entire planet). It’s not hard for the mind to go these places, especially when the sky is orange at noon *during a plague*. ☄️ California happens to have been founded exactly 170 years ago, on September 9. Longtime and even newer Californians love our state and yet bemoan what it’s become, most especially given the frequency and scope of disastrous wildfires that now keep us on edge much of the year. And yet, this morning, as always, here were people having coffee, jogging and walking dogs, as they would on any blue-sky mask-less day, although in fewer numbers. (Dogs gotta be walked.) 🐻 Driving home from taking these photos in Sausalito and Mill Valley, from about 8-9:30 a.m. today, I listened to a show on KQED about people who are fleeing the Bay Area, if not CA, where they’re going and why. While the pandemic and changed finances seemed to be driving much of the relocation, it just added to the mix of the morning. 🌝 I hope you’re having an OK day! * * * * * #everydaybayarea #sfgate #7x7bayarea #wow_america #munidiaries #lifeframerstories #streetphoto_color #streetphotocolor #sociallandscape #streetstories #documentary_photography #marinstagram #marincounty #sausalito #bayshooters #bay_shooters #orangeskies #orangeskyline #californiafires #nbcbayarea #abc7now #marinmagazine #unlimitedcalifornia #weatherphotography #wildfireseason #climatechangeisreal

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🌇 Cielo rojo que jamás olvidaré… Es un día histórico, un día en el que me siento de luto, por todos los bosques quemándose, por los daños en los ecosistemas, en las plantas, animales y personas que habitamos estas zonas. Me siento de luto e indignada con nosotros mismos, si bien California desafortunadamente es muy flamable, el calentamiento global provocado por nosotros y las acciones del hombre lo empeora todo. Hoy más que nunca sentí una profunda tristeza, ¡¿qué estamos haciendo?!, ¡¿quién quema su propia casa?! Cómo puede ser posible que en mayor parte a causa nuestra, nos privamos de un día soleado y en cambio, tuvimos un impactante y anormal cielo rojo… ¡Ya basta, no podemos seguir así! ¡¿Qué más necesitamos para darnos cuenta?! Esta temporada ha sido la primera en años que se ha sentido días calurosos en la ciudad como nunca, cuando aquí se mantiene constantemente fresco. Esto no es normal, definitivamente no es normal… Hoy, más que cada día, reflexioné y oré con toda mi fé por una oportunidad más para tomar responsabilidad de lo que está en nuestras manos, anhelo profundamente que Dios me coloque donde pueda contribuir de alguna manera a proteger nuestro hogar y sus habitantes. Hoy, vi nuestro hogar en llamas a causa nuestra. 😔😢🌡️🌇🌎🔥 San Francisco, 9 de septiembre de 2020. #sanfrancisco #sf #California #fire #redsky

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In closing, we loved receiving this poem by Redwood High School English teacher, Rebecca Elegant:

Photo by Laila Rezai.

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Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.