Photo Friday: Mount Baker Amid Haze from Fires

This Photo Friday, catch a glimpse of Mount Baker, a large glaciated peak in the North Cascades, from the area around Bellingham in the state of Washington. Or see what the view was like at spots from which the mountain could usually be seen.

These photos are obtained first-hand from GlacierHub’s managing editor Ben Orlove who is visiting Northwest Washington to interview local residents in the small towns near the peak. The area is known for its spectacular views of Mount Baker, but these views have recently been clouded by haze from devastating forest fires that have swept across British Columbia and eastern Washington.

One afternoon during Orlove’s trip, the winds shifted and the air was a little clearer. Mount Baker was also more visible in the background. But then the winds changed again, and the heavy smoke returned.

Such smoky conditions are historically rare in the region, but this is the second year in a row that they have occurred, according to Orlove. When Mount Baker is visible, its shrinking glacier helps make visitors aware of climate change. After speaking with local residents, Orlove reported that several of them described the situation of smoky air as “the new normal.”  The fires that have made the mountain invisible for stretches of time this year have also been widely discussed in the media, with several commentators linking the fires to support for Washington Initiative 1631, a carbon emissions fee measure on the state ballot this fall. In this way, Mount Baker builds awareness of climate change, whether it is visible or not.

Mount Constitution on GlacierHub
Mount Constitution, the highest point on Orcas Island westward of Bellingham. Mount Baker, ordinarily visible from this spot, was obscured by haze. late August 2018  (Source: Ben Orlove).

 

Mount Baker in Bellinham on GlacierHub
View of Mount Baker from a neighborhood in Bellingham, on one of the few relatively clear days in late August 2018 (Source: Ben Orlove).

 

Early morning in the Fairhaven section of Bellingham, Washington, looking east.  Mount Baker  was obscured by the haze. late August 2018.(Source: Ben Orlove).
Mount Baker on GlacierHub
A spot on Bellingham Bay, from which Mount Baker is ordinarily visible. Late August 2018.(Source: Ben Orlove).

 

View of Mount Baker near the town of Seder-Woolley along the Skagit River on GlacierHub
A view from just outside Sedro-Woolley along the Skagit River. Mount Baker is usually visible from this spot. Late August 2018. (Source: Ben Orlove).

 

A clear view of Mount Rainier, south of Mount Baker, from an airplane above the smoke layer. Mount Rainier has also been obscured by smoke from the fires. Late August 2018. (Source: Ben Orlove).

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