Hundreds of wildfires continued to burn across Canada on Tuesday, sending smoke to parts of the United States as air pollution warnings were issued from Minnesota to Massachusetts.
A layer of fog covered parts of Ottawa and Toronto in Ontario, and smoke drifted through parts of New York and Vermont, prompting Canadian officials to warn residents of poor air quality. An air pollution alert was issued for all of New York City on Tuesday due to smoke. In the afternoon, the Manhattan skyline was covered by a hazy sky.
More than 400 wildfires ignited in Canada on Tuesday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, and the already intense wildfire season is only getting worse, and is expected to get even worse. More than 200 of them flared out of control, the agency said.
In eastern Canada, Quebec was the hardest-hit province of wildfires as of early Tuesday afternoon, with more than 150 blazes across the region, according to the Fire Department. In some areas, residents are being encouraged to close windows and doors, according to local officials in Quebec.
Videos and images showed several fires burning for miles and black smoke billowing into the sky.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference on Monday that he was in contact with local officials across Canada about the fires.
“This is a scary time for many,” Trudeau said.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said at a press conference that as of Monday, an estimated 26,000 people across Canada had fled their homes due to wildfires.
“The footage we’ve seen so far this season is some of the most gruesome that Canada has ever witnessed,” Blair said.
Prime Minister Trudeau said many Canadians displaced in recent days had only a few hours to pack before fleeing their homes.
“When people lose their homes, it’s not just roofs and property that they lose,” Trudeau said. “They lost a special place where they built their lives, watching their children grow up. This is incredibly difficult and heartbreaking.”
A band of smoke from the wildfires moved south across the border on Tuesday, hazy skies, and the U.S. National Weather Service issued an air quality alert for parts of the upper and northeastern Great Lakes.
Air pollution warnings were in effect for much of Minnesota through Tuesday evening as smoke from the Quebec wildfires swept across Minnesota due to light winds, according to the Bureau of Weather. Smoke also moved into the state from Lake Superior.
Weather officials warned that people with lung or heart disease, children and the elderly who are sensitive to poor air quality should limit certain outdoor activities.
New York City and several counties in upstate New York also issued air quality warnings until midnight. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said: twitter New Yorkers with heart or respiratory problems should limit their outings to “when absolutely necessary,” he said. Similar warnings have been issued in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Toronto and New York City briefly topped the top 10 major cities with the worst air quality on Tuesday, according to IQAir, a technology company that tracks air quality and air pollution around the world. Historically, Toronto and New York City do not rank among the top 3,000 cities with the worst air quality, according to IQAir.
According to the New York State Environmental Conservation Department, much of upstate New York and the New York City area are expected to experience worsening air quality through Wednesday.
Satellite imagery of North America on Tuesday showed light brown smoke billowing south from the blaze. The smoke appeared to be particularly thick in parts of Quebec, Ontario and New York. Fog conditions can extend south into Carolina.
A region of thick smoke over Lake Ontario is expected to move toward the New York City area late Tuesday afternoon or early evening, said John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the New York Weather Service.
“It will probably last all night,” Cristantello said.
In addition to poor air quality, smoke from wildfires can produce a bright reddish sunset that almost looks like a sunset. The New Yorker saw last month When the smoke from Canada’s wildfires drifted south.
Cristantello said that if wildfires continue to burn in Canada, such sunsets and poor air quality could continue this summer.
Public Safety Minister Tony Blair said hundreds of soldiers have been deployed across Canada to help fight the fires. Blair said other government agencies are standing by if the wildfires damage critical infrastructure.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that there was a forecast that “this could be a particularly severe wildfire season throughout the summer.”
There have already been more than 2,200 wildfires in Canada so far this year, according to the country’s fire department.