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2018 Wildfires | Smoke across Canada

Atlantic Canada sees murky skies from west coast fires

Digital writers

Saturday, August 25, 2018, 12:39 PM - Though the Maritimes have seen several hundred wildfires of their own this summer, it's the infamous fires all the way across the country that are darkening skies this weekend. Smoke from the more than 450 wildfires currently burning in British Columbia is making its presence felt from coast to coast (and beyond; more on that below), and prompted air quality statements as far away as Nova Scotia this weekend.

The good news for Atlantic Canada is that, while the smoke may make for hazy skies and unusually colourful sunsets, it's not expected to impact air quality at the surface. This smoke has been transported across the country at an altitude of about 10,000 metres, courtesy of the prevailing westerly winds across Canada. It's unlikely that air -- or smoke -- from this level will 'mix down' as far as the surface to impact anyone's health.

Visible satellite image. Smoke shows up as the diffuse, misty smear over Atlantic Canada; also visible over southern British Columbia, the southern Prairies, and much of the United States. Image courtesy College of DuPage.

That said, the increased haze may knock a few degrees off of what would have otherwise been the daytime high temperature, as the smoke reflects more sunlight over the region, along with making for some interesting photo opportunities.

Smoke from the B.C. wildfires is proving to be quite the world traveller. The plume currently extends some 9,000 km, from Hawaii to Greenland, having been pushed east by the jet stream, and drawn west over the Pacific by flow around Hurricane Lane.

An upper level trough moving into Atlantic Canada should finish sweeping away much of the smoke by early Sunday; at least, for now. Given the intensity of the wildfire situation out west, it's likely that hazy skies will return to eastern Canada on and off for at least the next few weeks.


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