Thick smoke chokes Canada, but cools the fires by blocking out the sun

The scorched earth after the fires in Shining Bank, Alberta, Canada, on May 11, 2023

Smoke from wildfires in western Canada triggered health alerts in many cities on Sunday, but it also helped calm the flames by blocking out the scorching sun in the hardest-hit areas of the country.

Wildfires in Alberta have displaced tens of thousands of people and burned more than 941,000 hectares over several weeks.

“Many Albertans will not be able to escape the smoke this weekend. It is thick in many parts of the province,” said Kristi Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire Agency.

“But you would also notice that the temperatures would be much cooler than they would have been if there hadn’t been smoke covering the sun.”

Less heat means we’ve seen less fire growth, Tucker said. Only five new outbreaks have been recorded since Friday.

On the other hand, he added, firefighters have not been able to fly planes frequently to get an accurate idea of ​​the size and number of fires that have broken out in recent days.

Weather maps have shown that smoke from the fires covers more than 2.7 million square kilometers and extends as far as the eastern coast of North America and the North Pole.

The government’s Department of the Environment (Environment Canada) has issued alerts about poor air quality, which poses a “very high risk” to health in the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, as the skies were an orange hue and the smell of smoke wafted through the air. air.

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Residents have been urged to limit outdoor activities.

Air quality alerts were also issued in several neighboring US states, with thick plumes of smoke pouring from Alberta across the border.

In recent years, western Canada has been repeatedly affected by extreme weather, the intensity and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.

Weekend high temperatures above average of 28°C are expected to drop by about 10° on Monday and remain low throughout the week.

More rain is also expected after several storms hit Alberta this weekend.


Amber Cross

"Music buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Organizer. Social media maven. Web nerd. Incurable reader."

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