Smoke from Canadian Wildfires Might Return
The Canadian wildfires have been well-documented, as well as the resulting smoke pouring into Minnesota, but due to the fires being in unpopulated areas, the fires will continue to burn.
Heavy smoke could be seen, smelled, and for those with pulmonary diseases or conditions, felt inside their chests multiple times over the past two weeks as two different waves of this haze made their way through Minnesota.
“Today’s a little bit different in that there’s a high pressure system that’s sitting over western Minnesota,” said Matt Taraldsen, an air quality meteorologist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “It’s basically all that smoke that comes south from Canada has been trapped by that high pressure system, so we’re getting a double whammy today of the smoke both entering the state from the north and also the smoke just pooling and recycling from the west from last week.”
The smoke coming into Minnesota will most likely continue. If you’re wondering what people can do to help, there’s a simple but unfortunate answer.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot. The areas that are burning up in Canada are pretty remote. In fact, as far as we can tell there’s no one that really lives there, there’s no weather sensors around there or anything, and so it seems that until these fires approach an area that is populated, they’ll let them burn, and that unfortunately creates a situation where we have the smoke that will push south into Minnesota,” explained Taraldsen.
One of the contributing factors to the start of the wildfires is a similar problem we’re seeing here in Minnesota. Our friends north of the border are seeing a very similar drought situation.
“A prolonged dry period has really set the stage for the ability for these massive wildfires to form, and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Taraldsen. “It just is unfortunately that in addition to these wildfires, the wind patterns have been from the north and so that just pushes all that smoke out of Canada and into Minnesota.”
The two additional factors of the precise location of the wildfires and climate change, which Taraldson says is where the drought results from, has made the smoke in Minnesota as bad as it could possibly be.
“If we didn’t have those wildfires, if those wildfires were in a different spot, or if we just had rain here in Minnesota, any one of those would have made this really a non-event,” said Taraldsen. “There’s a lot of things that came together kind of perfectly to make this type of event happen that’s relatively unusual, and so it’s hard to forecast those together. It really kind of is the prefect storm of what’s happened the past couple weeks in Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an Air Quality Alert earlier today covering almost the entire state of Minnesota. The air quality index (AQI) will be unhealthy for sensitive groups until Tuesday, August 3 at 3 PM.