Thursday, June 13, 2024

Air Quality Drops As Canada Wildfire Smokes Spread Across the U.S.

The number of wildfires in Canada have gone up significantly over the past week, with the smoke blanketing several parts of the U.S.

Last summer, large wildfires tore through southern and central Canada, sending smoke into the northern United States. While the number of wildfires is expected to be lower compared to 2023, it will likely still be near to above the historical average.

According to meteorologist Brandon Buckingham, wildfires have mostly been confined to west and central Canada this spring, including the Northwest Territories, Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. Cumulatively, however, they have burned over half a million acres.

kansas city
Kansas City, Missouri, was covered by a thick layer of smoke on the morning of May 14

The east coast, on the other hand, has seen limited fire activity due to lingering snow and wet conditions.

Earlier this week, a fire near Fort Nelson, British Columbia, forced thousands of Canadians to evacuate from their homes.

Up until last weekend, the smoke from these fires was confined to small areas north of the U.S. border. Due to a change in upper-level winds, however, the smoke has started to make its way to other regions of the U.S.

On Tuesday, the air quality was at unhealthy levels in central Iowa, eastern Nebraska, northwest Missouri, and northeast Kansas, where the sky was hazy. People who lived in these areas were urged to stay indoors, especially those with chronic respiratory conditions.

smoke in the us
Several states in central U.S. were covered by smoke from Canadian wildfires on Tuesday morning

While the air quality improved a bit over the next few hours, it was still at ‘poor levels’ in southern Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska, as the smoke from the fires traveled farther overnight.

According to experts, the smoke from the current wildfires may stay in the Upper Midwest or travel to the central plans over the course of a week. As long as the fires are not extinguished, there will always be a chance that the smoke will move further across the U.S.

Last summer, several fires in eastern Canada also caused the air quality to plunge to dangerous levels in the Northeast, including New York City.

Smoke From the Wildfires Will Also Travel South

The south isn’t safe either as the wildfires in Mexico will continue to blanket several Southern states in smoke.

wildfire smoke forecast

While the smoke may not always be visible due to rain and clouds, it will still cause a dip in air quality. Depending on the weather conditions, it may also vary in terms of intensity.

Wildfire Smoke This Summer

The number of wildfires should be significantly lower compared to last year, according to experts. However, parts of Ontario are expected to see wildfires as drought conditions will likely continue throughout the summer months.

In southeastern Canada, however, wildfire season doesn’t typically start until the fall, though it depends on the frequency and severity of various weather events such as rainstorms.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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