The day started out sunny and clear, but by Monday afternoon conditions were hazy and – some said – smelly.

Windber firefighters were summoned outside about 12:30 p.m. for a strange phenomenon.

“There was a blue haze everywhere,” Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Cicon said.

It had a faint smell of chlorine, he said.

Immediately, the fire department responded and called the Somerset Hazardous Materials Team to help them test the substance.

“We checked the lowest areas, the streams,” Cicon said.

Their meters whirred and clicked, but no strange or harmful chemicals were detected.

“You couldn’t miss it. If you were in Windber, you saw it,” said Sgt. Rick Skiles, borough police officer-in-charge. “It looked like a smoggy day.”

Then the National Weather Service clued in the responders. The cloud was a harmless circumstance called atmospheric inversion – basically, glorified fog.

“It’s typical for fall,” NWS meteorologist Barry Lambert said.

The temperature of the ground and the air above it react, trapping moisture, he said. The resulting low-lying cloud that settles in valleys can trap scents as well, he added.

Cicon said the same thing happened once last year, with such a haze moving from Westmont to Windber Borough.

Skiles described the film as a short-lived, white-colored vapor. Within an hour, the haze was gone, he said. While others smelled chlorine, Skiles described the scent as a burnt smell, like one created by a welder’s torch.

By 2 p.m., the hazmat team was sent home and skies were clear again.

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