Wildfire smoke's far-reaching effects: from Western Canada to Ontario and to Quebec

Eva Homicio

Millions of Canadians are expected to feel the impacts of smoke from wildfires in Western Canada as it travels thousands of kilometers in the coming days. The heavy smoke plume, resulting from 57 active fires in British Columbia and 88 in Alberta, is already contributing to poor air quality in northern and western provinces and territories. 

This week, some areas may experience hazy days and vibrant sunsets due to the smoke.

Over the past weekend, southeasterly winds pushed the majority of the smoke northwest, toward northern British Columbia and the Far North, leading to an increased risk of poor air quality. 

While the highest concentrations of smoke will remain in communities closest to the active fires, changing wind patterns will enable it to travel greater distances. 

The smoke is expected to become trapped in the mid-to-upper levels of the atmosphere and then be transported thousands of kilometers from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere by strong, upper-level winds.

Satellite imagery has already detected signs of the smoke across parts of Ontario and western Quebec. Although southern Ontario and Quebec are forecast to have mostly clear skies throughout the week, any haze observed can be attributed to the wildfire smoke.

Interestingly, this atmospheric smoke may lead to more vivid sunrises and sunsets in Eastern Canada over the next several days. This phenomenon occurs as red light passes through smoke particles more easily than blue light, resulting in a brighter, more red appearance during sunrise and sunset. 

As the wildfire smoke continues to move across the country, millions of Canadians will experience its effects, serving as a reminder of the ongoing wildfires and their far-reaching consequences.

Earlier we reported: Alberta wildfires: state of emergency, force shutdown of major oil producers, Premier announce emergency payments.

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