Scorched earth after a fire at Shining Bank, Alberta, Canada, May 11, 2023
Smoke from wildfires in western Canada prompted health alerts in several cities on Sunday, but also helped quell the flames by blocking a scorching sun from the country’s most affected areas.
Wildfires in the province of Alberta have displaced thousands of people and burned more than 941,000 hectares in several weeks.
“Many Albertans will not be able to escape the smoke this weekend. It is thick in many parts of the province,” said Kristi Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire Agency.
“But you’ll also notice that temperatures are cooler than they would be if there weren’t smoke covering the sun.”
The low heat, Tucker explained, “means we’ve seen less growth in fires.” Only five new outbreaks have been recorded since Friday.
On the other hand, he said, firefighters have not been able to fly planes so often in recent days to get an accurate idea of the size and number of fires.
Weather maps showed smoke from the fires covered more than 2.7 million square kilometers and stretched as far as the East Coast of North America and the Arctic.
The government environment department (Environment Canada) issued an alert about poor air quality that posed a “very high risk” to health in the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, where skies turned orange and the air smelled of smoke . Air.
Residents were urged to limit outdoor activities.
Air quality alerts were also issued in several states in the neighboring United States as thick plumes of smoke drifted across the border from Alberta.
In recent years, western Canada has been repeatedly affected by extreme weather conditions, the intensity and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.
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Daytime maximum temperatures above 28°C over the weekend are expected to drop by around 10°C on Monday and remain lower throughout the week.
More rain is also expected after several storms hit Alberta this weekend.