Forecasters Warn Canadian Wildfire Smoke Will Stick Around For Days
The Statue of Liberty shrouded in smoke from Canada wildfires in New York, US, on Wednesday, June 7, 2023.
(Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Smoke from Canadian wildfires will continue to blow through parts of the United States through the weekend, forecasters predict.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Ramsey said the smoke, which has prompted several bad air quality warnings, “will probably be hanging around at least for the next few days,” according to the Associated Press.

“Conditions are likely to remain unhealthy, at least until the wind direction changes or the fires get put out,” Ramsey added. “Since the fires are raging — they’re really large — they’re probably going to continue for weeks. But it’s really just going be all about the wind shift.”

Millions of people are under air quality alerts, according to CNN, as a low pressure system hovering over Maine and Nova Scotia has been driving the smoke from wildfires in the Canadian province of Quebec through the Midwest and eastern United States as far south as the Carolinas over the past couple days. The haze is expected to reach other countries, some as far away as Norway.

In Canada, thousands of people have been displaced as firefighters work to contain hundreds of infernos raging across the country. More than 100 wildfires in Quebec were reported to be out of control as of Tuesday.

“The current forecast for the next few months indicates the potential for continued higher-than-normal fire activity,” Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said on Monday, according to the National Post.

In the short-term, AccuWeather reported that shifting winds could provide relief to places in the eastern United States such as New England and New York City, but the air quality could worsen in places including Toronto, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.

“By Saturday, winds may send some smoke farther east once again,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

A “significant shift in the weather pattern is expected by early next week, as a storm may form over the Midwest,” he added, saying this will “completely shift the winds and force the smoke back to the north in Canada.”


Officials in the affected regions are warning residents to stay indoors, and outdoor activities in some places are being cancelled. Images posted across social media show an orange haze engulfing well-known monuments and buildings such as the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol.

The Federal Aviation Administration has even issued some ground stops and delays at New York’s LaGuardia and other airports due to low visibility.

Under the U.S. Air Quality Index, a scale in which 0-50 is considered “Good,” some locations such as Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia were approaching 300 on Thursday, meaning the air is considered “very unhealthy.”

The D.C. Department of Energy and Environment warned that some potential effects of the bad air quality are heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, and decreased lung function. People who go outside in the nation’s capital are encouraged to consider using an N95 or KN95 mask “to reduce inhalation issues,” the agency said in a tweet.

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked about the wildfires during a call on Wednesday, according a White House readout. It noted that the United States has deployed more than 600 firefighters and support personnel, along with other firefighting “assets,” to help respond to the fires.

“The President has directed his team to deploy all available Federal firefighting assets that can rapidly assist in suppressing fires impacting Canadian and American communities,” the White House said.

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