We see lots of pictures from satellites, but it's hard for satellites to see what's going on at the surface...This is why air quality monitoring is so important. Here's a time-lapse video from yesterday afternoon in Yreka, CA, looking north, and showing SW transport winds aloft blowing clouds to the NE, but surface winds bringing smoke from opposite direction (north) in a surface layer "decoupled" from that upper level transport. Video below... Fun stuff for air nerds.
Patterns and observations of air flow and smoke transport are key to predicting future smoke impacts, especially in topography is as rugged that found in northern California. Below is a graphic showing the levels of smoke in Yreka for the last 15 days against an AQI background. In it one can see that a pattern has set up: smoke has been doing this just about every day since the Beaver Complex fire became active on 8/3.