A forecast of supercharged wildfires in Canada could mean poor air quality in the United States during the fall
Canadian officials have issued a realistic forecast for wildfire activity during the fall. This news could leave residents of the northern tier states gasping, literally. Meteorologists and fire weather experts have placed central Canada at “well above average” wildfire activity.
As we saw over the summer, wildfire smoke drifts into the United States, often dropping air quality for millions to an unhealthy level.
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“Forecasts of persistent warm and dry weather may contribute to the outbreak of new fires, and there remains the possibility that some of the existing large fires will continue to be active through September and possibly later into the fall or winter,” National Resources Canada said in a statement.
Fire forecasts depend on drought conditions, temperatures and rainfall forecasts, according to National Resources Canada.
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That could mean more air quality alerts like those in six states last week. It could also mean more of the blood-red, smoky sunsets we saw in New York in June during Halloween. One health professional told FOX Weather that 15 minutes of breathing outside during the June air quality emergency in New York City was the equivalent of smoking half a pack of cigarettes.
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‘Worst wildfire season in Canada’
The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources described 2023 as “Canada’s worst wildfire season.”
“This year’s bushfire season has been unprecedented and devastating for communities across the country,” the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages said in a statement. “Evacuations have disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of Canadians.”
To date, more than 42 million acres have burned across Canada. The Canadian Interagency Wildfire Center reports 925 fires are currently burning, with 560 of them out of control. Since the beginning of the year so far, 6,208 fires have burned across the country.
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The number of wildfires is higher than normal, but their severity and extent make this a fire season UnprecedentedAccording to Canadian officials. The burned area will include Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New JerseyNew Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Washington, D.C
The past nine years combined total 40 million acres. On average, the country sees only 5.7 million acres burned annually.
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To put this in perspective, 2015 was the worst year for fires in the United States in the past 40 years, when 10.1 million acres burned.
Smoke can create health risks
From itchy eyes to shortness of breath and even complex pre-existing conditions, such as asthma and emphysema, a number of symptoms may come from particles in wildfire smoke. The particles can lodge in the airways and cause chronic inflammation and chronic shortness of breath, said Dr. Sampson Davis, an emergency medicine physician at CareWell.
“Fine particle pollution from wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and cause coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue,” it warns. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Wildfires can be dangerous to your health even if you are not near them
“Smoke particles are small enough that they can be inhaled deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to diseases such as bronchitis or worsen existing chronic heart and lung disease, leading to heart palpitations, asthma “Seizures, heart attacks and strokes,” the agency’s statement continued.
Smoke can travel thousands of miles through the atmosphere. So, even if you, your family, and your pets aren’t in close proximity to wildfires, your air quality could be compromised. In June, the Copernicus atmospheric monitoring service found smoke from Canadian wildfires drifting into Europe.
CAMS maps predict where smoke will travel based on weather models. Here are the forecasts.
FOX Weather monitors air quality across the United States. Check here for conditions near you.