Wildfires occurring in western Canada are expected to result in smoky conditions in the United States throughout this week. In June, certain parts of the U.S. experienced smoke pollution due to wildfires in other regions of Canada. On Monday, smoke from wildfires in Western Canada spread across the Midwest and the Northeast of the United States, causing the sky to turn hazy and obscuring the sun. This smoke enveloped numerous cities, leading to warnings advising people to limit their outdoor activities to protect their health.
Remarkably, this marked the second instance in less than a month where the borderless impact of climate change was evident in the air people breathed. In June, heavy smoke pollution from wildfires in Quebec drifted across the East Coast, reaching as far west as Minnesota, affecting cities like New York City and Washington. During the present week, around 900 wildfires were reported across Canada, and the resulting smoke extended southward into the U.S. due to prevailing winds, affecting a wide area.
Wildfire smoke pollution is set to return to the region at the beginning of the new week
By 7 p.m. Eastern time on the affected day, an estimated 70 million people residing in 32 states and the District of Columbia experienced the effects of this shifting, migrating smoke. These estimates were derived from data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and LandScan, a population database. According to the National Weather Service in the Philadelphia area, unfortunately, the wildfire smoke pollution is set to return to the region at the beginning of the new week.
Various government agencies issued air quality alerts across several states, including Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, and the Northeastern states. The alerts ranged from moderate to very unhealthy levels. As a precautionary measure, residents were advised to take steps such as limiting outdoor activities and wearing masks for protection. In Chicago, the air quality deteriorated over the weekend, leading Mayor Brandon Johnson to warn vulnerable groups like children, older individuals, and those with heart or lung conditions to avoid outdoor activities.
Mayor Johnson emphasized that the recent extreme weather events impacting the city during the summer were a direct consequence of the climate crisis.
Massachusetts under air quality advisories
On Sunday, Governor Kathy Hochul of New York issued air quality health advisories for Monday. Upstate New York was expected to experience unhealthy air quality levels for all residents, while the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island were anticipated to face unhealthy conditions only for sensitive groups. By 6:30 p.m. on Monday, the air quality across the region worsened significantly, with certain areas exceeding 100 on the air quality index.