Smoke from more than 200 wildfires burning in Canada continues to blow into portions of the northern and western U.S., but forecasters are hopeful that rain this week could give firefighters the upper hand in extinguishing fires that have burned millions of acres and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.
On Friday, upper-level winds blew in thick smoke from the wildfires burning in Alberta and British Columbia, knocking down air quality levels to "unhealthy" in Denver, leaving the Mile High City with what was reportedly the second-worst air quality in the world, according to IQAir.com.
"If you’ve noticed, a lot of our sunrises and sunsets have been looking very hazy or red," FOX Weather meteorologist Kiyana Lewis said. "It’s because of the smoke in the air."
Air quality alerts in effect
The smoky conditions here in the U.S. are leading to unhealthy air quality levels, posing a danger to those with lung conditions such as asthma and emphysema. Infants, young children, people who work outside and older adults could also be at risk.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the NWS issued an Air Quality Advisory for Blaine, Lincoln, Minidoka and Cassia counties until at least 1 p.m. MDT because of the degraded air quality.
The NWS said the air quality is acceptable, but there may be risks to some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
According to IQAir.com, Malta, Montana, had an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 215 or "very unhealthy" during the day Sunday.
On Monday, that was upgraded slightly to "unhealthy for sensitive groups," with surrounding areas seeing a "moderate" AQI.
Wildfire smoke tracker
The FOX Weather Smoke Tracker showed that strong winds blew the smoke across the western U.S. into the Great Lakes region and portions of the Northeast on Sunday afternoon.
The worst of the smoke should stay in Canada on Monday. However, smoky conditions are likely to remain across the northern tier, Great Lakes and Northeast, including New York state.
And Tuesday will likely be the same as most of the wildfire smoke remains in Canada, with some smoke reaching into the northern tier, Great Lakes and Northeast. Some of the smoke could also get farther south into the Ohio Valley.
Rain on the way in Canada
Some much-needed rain could help firefighters get the upper hand in fighting the wildfires scorching the Canadian landscape.
Showers and thunderstorms are expected across western Canada through Wednesday, with the highest rain totals expected where a bulk of the wildfires are burning.
Grande Prairie, Alberta, and surrounding areas could pick up 2 to 3 inches of rain through the middle of the week. Farther south in Edmonton, Alberta, less than a half-inch is expected.