May 31, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Canada wildfire smoke triggers air quality alerts in Northeastern U.S.

A view of hazy sky which wildfires in Canada impacts and reduces air quality in New York, United States on May 30.

A view of a hazy sky in New York City on Tuesday impacted by wildfires in Canada. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Plumes of smoke from wildfires scorching southeastern Canada's Nova Scotia province are drifting across the Northeastern U.S. and prompting air quality alerts in several cities through Wednesday.

The big picture: Fires have been burning in Canada for weeks, as much of the country experiences above-average temperatures and while it's not unusual for Canadian wildfire smoke to reach the U.S., it's normally Northwestern states that are affected.

A screenshot of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Nova Scotia photo tweet showing a smoke-filled road lined by forest trees.
Road closures are in effect related to the Shelburne County forest fire near Barrington Lake, Nova Scotia, per the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia. Photo: RCMP Nova Scotia/Twitter

Threat level: Smoke reached New York, Maine and Connecticut, but the worst affected areas Tuesday were Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where air quality alerts were issued.

Meanwhile, as thick smoke from the Halifax fire chokes the Canadian city, officials reported a rise in respiratory distress calls from the poor air quality and urged vulnerable people to take precautions.

A screenshot of a tweet from NWS Gray saying: "You might notice some haze in the sky tonight at sunset as smoke from wildfires in Nova Scotia is brought over the area.  While we avoided most impacts from the smoke today, the smoke will continue to stay over the area tomorrow."
Photo: NWS Gray, Maine/Twitter
Go deeper