OTTAWA, Ontario - An unusually intense wildfire season in Canada has filled the skies of the Northeast with scenes of smoke and forced the issuance of air quality alerts for millions.
The smoke-filled air is being pumped into the northern tier by a series of weather features. Without an immediate reduction in wildfire activity, communities across North America could be threatened by smoke for an extended period.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, more than 400 fires are actively burning across the country, which is a result of an ongoing drought and warm temperatures.
When will the Canadian wildfires end?
Government officials project higher-than-normal fire activity across most of the country throughout the 2023 fire season, but as the summer progresses, western Quebec into central Ontario could see slight improvements, which would be welcome news for the Northeast.
Typically, most wildfires occur between April and September, with the peak over the summer.
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While eastern Canada could see a relaxation of wildfire conditions, the government warns fire potential could expand over western parts of the country through the summer.
Forecasters warn the Yukon territory could be one of the prime areas to see fire development due to a continued worsening of soil moisture and dry vegetation.
"Updated modelling shows that the 2023 wildfire season will once again be serious in many areas of Canada," Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Natural Resources, said in a statement. "The federal government is working with provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as with Indigenous communities, to ensure continued support for those impacted by these fires."
According to the FOX Forecast Center, the combination of significant wildfire activity and northerly flow would help to usher in potentially unhealthy air in the western U.S. if ingredients align.
Wildfires burn 6 million acres a year on average in Canada. But this year’s total has already surpassed more than 9 million.
The origins of the extensive fire season can be traced back to the winter, when many communities saw below-normal snowfall.
When will this smoke finally clear out most of the Northeast?
Forecast models are suggesting a pattern change late this weekend into early next week that shift the pattern with a storm system moving in from the Great Lakes.
This should be an efficient rainmaker, along with some thunderstorms, but the good news is this will also shift the winds to a true southerly direction. This should finally clear the air of most of the smoke.