Canada Wildfire Season Begins, Smoke Reaches US

by | May 15, 2024 | Daily News, Environmental News

Home » Environmental News » Canada Wildfire Season Begins, Smoke Reaches US

As the Canada wildfire season begins, smoke from active wildfires has reached the U.S. This has prompted air quality concerns and Minnesota’s first air quality alert in 2024, as per reports.

As of May 12, over 100 wildfires were raging across Canada, with most of them in British Columbia and Alberta. At least 40 of the wildfires have been labeled by Canadian authorities as “out of control.”

Canada wildfire season

Wildfires Cause Evacuations in Canada

In western Canada, more than 20,000 acres are ablaze. Authorities have issued evacuation orders in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) and Fort Nelson First Nations areas.

The evacuation order came down on May 11, impacting nearly 3,500 people who make up most of Fort Nelson. The Indigenous town of Fontas also faced evacuation orders.

In Alberta, evacuation preparations were initiated in Fort McMurray. However, rain helped control the fires enough to avoid further evacuation plans for now. The initial alert extended to Saprae Creek Estates, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Rickards Landing Industrial Park. Residents in these areas are asked to await further instructions.

Smoke and Air Quality Concerns

Wildfire smoke blankets much of Canada, raising concerns across the country regarding poor air quality.  Environment Canada issued an alert warning of poor air quality and low visibility from British Columbia to Ontario.

Windy conditions have pushed wildfire smoke into Edmonton. There, an air quality advisory warns of “very high risk” hazard levels, according to CBS News.

Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health, even at low concentrations,” officials said. They warned that people with adverse health conditions should remain indoors and away from smoke. Masks should be used if people must spend time outside amid smoky skies.

Wildfire smoke has also reached multiple states in the U.S. These states include Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This prompted Minnesota to issue its first air quality alert of 2024. According to reports, the Air Quality Index in most of Minnesota over the weekend has hovered between 150 and 200, occasionally crossing over 200.

Smoke is projected to migrate throughout the week into Nebraska. Much of the central and northern U.S. will see hazy skies. Heavy smoke in much of the affected areas is expected to lessen, though some smoke will likely remain into the week.

According to the American Lung Association, forest fire smoke can negatively affect asthma and trigger heart attacks and strokes. It can cause a variety of respiratory symptoms, and close proximity can bring on carbon monoxide poisoning.

An Outlook on Wildfire Season in Canada and the U.S.

Canada may be looking at another dangerous fire season, officials said earlier this year, per reports. A warmer and drier winter across the country combined with a warmer spring and summer forecast has made the land ripe for fires. These conditions allow fires to start and spread easily.

With the heat and dryness across the country, we can expect that the wildfire season will start sooner and end later and potentially be more explosive,” said Canada Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan. Canada’s fire season begins in May and ends in October.

This forecast comes a year after an especially destructive fire season in the country. It prompted thousands to evacuate and brought dangerous air quality across much of Canada and the U.S. Many cities topped world rankings for having the worst air quality.

According to an April AccuWeather report, the U.S. isn’t expected to have a particularly catastrophic fire season. A National Interagency Fire Center report argues that there is still an elevated fire risk due to drought conditions and high temperatures.

The western U.S. spawns the largest wildfires, but will likely have a later start to the Canada wildfire season. Canada is projected by both reports to have a longer and more active than average fire season. Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham feels that the fires will become more frequent in midsummer and early fall.

Also Read: Farmers Save Bees In Drought-Stricken Southern Mexico

Author

  • Sarah Tancredi

    Sarah Tancredi is an experienced journalist and news reporter specializing in environmental and climate crisis issues. With a deep passion for the planet and a commitment to raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges, Sarah has dedicated her career to informing the public and promoting sustainable solutions. She strives to inspire individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to safeguard our planet for future generations.

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