Canada wildfires lead to air-quality alerts in US
Canada is dealing with a series of wildfires that have spread from the western provinces to Quebec. Wind has carried smoke from the fires southward, triggering air quality alerts throughout the United States. (June 6)
Your health can be severely compromised if the air that you breathe isn't at optimal levels.
And with many U.S. states, including Wisconsin, experiencing air quality alerts over the last several weeks, due to the smoke from wildfires, millions of Americans need to be on alert as hazy skies continue to consume the atmosphere.
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Where are the wildfires in Canada?
The wildfires that have been impacting Wisconsin's air quality, as well as other U.S. states, have come from all across Canada. Fires in Alberta and British Columbia on the western part of the country were the culprits in May and more recently they have erupted across the eastern provinces in Quebec and Nova Scotia. As of June 4, 249 of 413 active wildfires were still deemed out-of-control. Nine of the 13 provinces and territories are battling wildfires in Canada.
Why are the wildfires a problem?
When there are wildfires they create pollutants in the air and those pollutants can cause unsafe levels for you to breathe. Exposure can cause headaches, difficulty breathing, irritated eyes, chest pains, asthma attacks, fatigue, irritated throat, increased coughing, the National Weather Service says.
Are there wildfires in Wisconsin and its surrounding states?
Yes, and that isn't helping matters, either.
In fact, earlier this spring in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers issued a state of emergency after the DNR declared multiple red flag warnings for the state due to the threat of wildfires. A red flag warning is issued when warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger.
In just one week, over 80 fires broke out across Wisconsin and burned thousands of acres.
Here's a current map to monitor of the active fires in Wisconsin and beyond.
What are some of the worst U.S. cities for air quality?
Within the Great Lakes region, the Northeast and other parts of the country affected by the Canadian wildfires and their own, you'll want to be cognizant of the air quality if you're traveling.
For example, New York had the worst air quality in the entire world at one point Wednesday. The city's air quality was in the "hazardous" category, with a level in the 300s, as its skies looked like they were on fire as they were turned orange. When a city is in this range, everyone could be affected and people are urged to avoid all physical activity outdoors.
Cities in Wisconsin have not seen air qualities levels as bad as these throughout the last month but some have been in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category at points.
Is there an air quality alert in Wisconsin?
An air quality alert will be issued when the number of pollutants in the air reaches an unhealthy level. If you fall in a certain population you will likely need to alter your outdoor activities when air quality levels begin to deteriorate. Seniors, children and those with compromised immune system are especially at risk when pollution levels begin to creep up. But everyone will be affected when the air continues to be filled with pollutants.
Since the state's air quality has been everchanging over the last month, it can be beneficial for you to stay up to date on air quality notices.
And below are air quality maps of Wisconsin with a focus on the Milwaukee metro area as well the United States. This map is updated every hour.
Are there any weather warnings right now?
Staying tuned into weather updates is also paramount during any season.
Weather alerts below are updated every five minutes.