Hundreds of wildfires continued to rage across Canada on Tuesday, exacerbating an already active fire season that was only expected to get worse and sending smoke across parts of the United States, creating levels of poor air quality.
In Ontario, a layer of haze blanketed parts of Ottawa and Toronto, where Canadian officials warned residents of poor air quality, as smoke drifted into parts of upstate New York and Vermont. All of New York City was on air quality alert Tuesday due to smoke; in the afternoon, the Manhattan skyline was obscured by hazy skies.
There were more than 400 active wildfires in Canada on Tuesday, according to the Canadian Inter-Agency Center for Wildland Fireswith more than 200 considered « out of control ».
In eastern Canada, Quebec was hardest hit by fires beginning early Tuesday afternoon, with more than 150 active fires across the area, according to the fire agency. Residents in some areas were encouraged to close doors and windows, local officials in Quebec She said.
Video and images showed some fires burning for miles, sending plumes of dark smoke rising into the sky.
At the Press conference On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in contact with local officials across Canada about the fires.
« This is a scary time for a lot of people, » Mr. Trudeau said.
As of Monday, some 26,000 people across Canada have been evacuated from their homes because of the fires, Canada’s public safety minister Bill Blair said at the press conference.
“The images we’ve seen so far this season are some of the most serious we’ve seen in Canada,” Blair said.
Many Canadians who have had to evacuate in recent days have had just hours to pack before fleeing their homes, Trudeau said.
« When people lose their homes, they don’t just lose a roof and their possessions, » said Mr. Trudeau. “They lose a special place where they have seen their children grow up, where they have built a life. This is incredibly difficult and heartbreaking. »
Smoke streaks from several wildfires were expected to drift south across the border on Tuesday, creating hazy skies and prompting the U.S. National Weather Service to issue air quality advisories for parts of the upper Great Lakes and northern -East.
Large swathes of Minnesota were on air quality alerts throughout Tuesday evening, the weather service said. Light winds were expected to push smoke from the Quebec fires across Minnesota. The smoke was also expected to drift into the state off Lake Superior.
Weather officials have warned that people most sensitive to poor air quality, such as people with lung and heart disease, children and the elderly, should limit certain outdoor activities.
Further east, air quality alerts were also active for multiple counties in upstate New York and New York City until midnight. Similar notices have been issued for parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Satellite images of North America on Tuesday showed light brown smoke flowing south from the fires. The smoke appeared to be particularly thick over portions of Quebec, Ontario and New York. Foggy conditions could also reach as far south as the Carolinas.
John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the New York Weather Service, said a thick patch of smoke over Lake Ontario is expected to drift toward the New York area by late afternoon or early evening Tuesday.
« It will probably linger for most of the night, » Cristantello said.
In addition to poor air quality levels, smoke from wildfires could create a vivid, reddish sunset, similar to what New York saw last month when the smoke from the Canadian fires had drifted south.
Such sunsets and poor air quality levels could persist this summer if Canada continues to see many wildfires, Cristantello said.
In Canada, Blair said hundreds of soldiers have been deployed across the country to help with firefighting efforts. Other government agencies were standing by whether the fires damaged critical infrastructure, Blair said.
Mr. Trudeau said on Monday that forecasts indicate « this could be a particularly bad bushfire season throughout the summer. »
To date, more than 2,200 fires had already occurred in Canada this year, according to the country’s fire agency.