At least 63 wildfires burning in Ontario are belching out smoke plumes that will likely drift into Minnesota at times. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation reports nearly 30 of those blazes are out of control.
64 forest fires are burning in northern and northeastern Ontario, with 29 out of control. https://t.co/PY0b9A3VmU
— CBC News (@CBCNews) July 22, 2018
Dozens of wildfires dot the map across the Canadian province that makes up Minnesota’s northern border.
Looking for forest fire updates? For the latest information about active fires in Ontario, view our interactive fire map at https://t.co/XPnoZFTS24 #Ontario #forestfires #firemap pic.twitter.com/4VtyKcRC7j
— ONForestFires (@ONforestfires) July 23, 2018
Smoke plumes from the fires east of Winnipeg, Manitoba near the Ontario border have been visible from space on weather satellites.
On July 18, NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of fires along the border between Manitoba and Ontario. Lightning sparked nearly 400 new fires in Canada this week. Learn more: https://t.co/SlNgKowMPs.
Credit: NASA. pic.twitter.com/VxBlM4nXp2
— CanadianSpaceAgency (@csa_asc) July 23, 2018
You may have noticed the whitish sky tint the past few days and some vivid reddish sunsets across Minnesota. That’s produced by varying levels of smoke aloft refracting sunlight. NOAA’s smoke mapping product shows massive plumes of smoke drifting across Canada and the northern U.S. The most concentrated smoke plume was over Wisconsin and northeast Illinois Monday.
Air quality moderate for now
So far smoke has not been a sustained issue at ground level across Minnesota. But many locations have reached the moderate to high level for particulate matter in the past few days.
You can see the latest MPCA air quality index values here.
Our prevailing winds this week will be from the northwest overall. A cold front diving south Wednesday could severe as a focus that may bring smoke down to ground level in Minnesota. Northerly flow from Canada Thursday may also blow smoke south into Minnesota.
Here’s NOAA’s GFS model forecast wind flow at about 5,000 feet above ground level this week.
The bottom line for Minnesota is until the Canadian fires are doused by rain, any northerly wind flow will blow smoke into Minnesota skies this week and possibly beyond. Expect changeable smoke levels and possible air quality alerts this week in parts of Minnesota.