By Dave Warren

Miami (CBSMiami) — We all know what to expect with the typical South Florida cold fronts that impact the area from October through March. 

A warm breeze with a shower and storm is followed by a cooler drier northwest wind as the skies clear. Often we are waking up to temperatures in the 50s with a cool breeze the following morning.

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Here on the east coast, however, the fronts can also be accompanied by a haze and a smell of smoke. This is from fires, either wild or controlled burns, that are now upwind of the area thanks to the change in wind direction.

Traveling north on US 27 towards Lake Okeechobee you hit the sugar cane fields a little after you pass the county line.

Every year, starting in October, using a controlled method of burning, the growers set fires in small contained areas. This burns off the leaves revealing the sugar-rich stalks beneath them.

It’s a controversial process, but for now, it’s a process that will continue along with the frequent cold fronts we get at the same time.

When our typical ocean breeze is replaced by a stronger northwest wind that can overpower the daily sea breeze, it can bring smoke from these burns into the area.

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If the burns are big enough and numerous enough, it’s a phenomenon that can be seen by NASA satellites.

Here at the surface, however, the sky will take on a milky white haze and you will get the smell of smoke which can linger for a few hours to a day.

Northwest wind develops behind a cold front. (CBSMiami)

A typical South Florida front will keep a northwest wind around for a day or two before the milder ocean breeze returns.

Towards the end of the dry season, there is a chance the smoke you see and smell is from a wildfire and not a controlled burn.

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This is always a concern since the burn is not controlled and the front often ushers in a gusty wind plus dry air, two things that can lead to increased fire danger.

Dave Warren