Canada’s ‘unprecedented’ wildfires fill North American skies with smoke
Smoky air is moving over the United States as Canada struggles to contain a series of large wildfires in Alberta, located in the western part of the country.
More than 93 fires were still active on Friday and close to 3,000 square miles of land have been burned, reported the British Broadcasting Company.
It’s an “unusual year,” officials say, because of the severe heat, lack of rainfall and worsening wind conditions — making the perfect storm for wildfires, per the Washington Post.
“People have called this season certainly unprecedented in recent memory because we have so many fires so spread out,” Christie Tucker with Alberta Wildfire told The Associated Press at a briefing.
The smoke in Alberta is thick, one resident named Marilyn Hamelin who lives in High Prairie told BBC.
“I’m scared,” Hamelin told BBC. “It just seems gloomy out all the time. There’s no sun or anything.”
With the many big wildfires, the smoke output is affecting more than just Canada.
Boulder’s National Weather Service shared a video of the smoke’s movement earlier in the week and its southward movement into the states by the wind.
Significant early season wildfire activity in Canada, particularly the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta where over 1M acres have burned, will likely bring an increase in smoke for Colorado over the coming days. (1/2) #COwx pic.twitter.com/CsmoXgr6Xs
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) May 16, 2023
The Alberta government has declared 23 states of emergency in the Canadian province due to extreme wildfires that started earlier this month. The province is located directly north of western states including Idaho, Montana and Washington along the Canadian and U.S. border.
Smoke is hitting as far east as Michigan and as far south as New Mexico, according to an update of “hazy skies caused by smoke from Western U.S. and Canada” by the National Weather Service for the Marquette area and “a mix of fog and smoke” across northern New Mexico, reported local KRQE meteorologist Grant Tosterud.
On Saturday, moderate to poor air quality has been reported by the AirNow map throughout the west, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.