Wildfires burning in Canada have sent plumes of smoke across the eastern U.S. multiple times over the last few weeks. The latest surge of wildfire smoke filtered our sunshine Monday and Tuesday. The intensity of those fires is evident in satellite imagery Tuesday with smoke from multiple burning fires clearly visible. Wildfire smoke is expected to continue impacting our weather in the coming days.
How much of the U.S. saw smoke Tuesday and what do models show for smoke in the Youngstown area this week?
Satellite imagery showed the smoky haze emanating from wildfires in several spots in Canada. The most intense fires are in the Province of Quebec, just southeast of the Hudson Bay.
Smoke from those fires could be seen Tuesday dispersing in the skies over the Atlantic, off the coast of the U.S. That smoke also obscured sunshine across a large part of the northeastern United States. Areas of smoke were even seen over Missouri and Arkansas.
Models continue to show plumes of smoke moving toward the Mahoning and Shenango valleys Wednesday and Thursday. It is likely that any sunshine Wednesday is accompanied by a murky sky. We are going to have the chance for a few more clouds Thursday, but any breaks are likely to be difficult to spot with smoky instead of blue skies.
Will wildfire smoke impact air quality in the Youngstown area?
Mahoning Valley Air, a division of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, has declared Wednesday as an action day. The entity is forecasting pollutant concentrations reaching unhealthy levels. Their forecast calls for unhealthy air quality for all groups, not just individuals suffering from breathing conditions or asthma.
StormTeam 27’s VIPIR Radar Air Quality Tracker also shows potential particle pollution Wednesday and Thursday. The model below shows the modeling as of Tuesday evening. A plume of smoke is expected to descend into the region Wednesday. Another plume is expected to reach our region Thursday and potentially linger into Friday. Both plumes have the potential to lower air quality to unhealthy levels for sensitive groups. Surface smoke concentration may reach levels high enough that the air has a smell of smoke in the region.
How much longer will the air pattern allow smoke to push into our part of the country?
A change in the patter is expected Friday night into Saturday as warmer air briefly pushes back into the region. An approaching storm system Sunday will also aid in keeping the smoke away. However, there is the potential that an area of low pressure sets up over the lower Great Lakes, sending the smoke west across Canada. That smoke could dive into the U.S. next week if the fires are still burning.