Smothering Skies of Smoke in Wyoming? Blame Canada

Smothering Skies of Smoke in Wyoming? Blame Canada

Written by on May 18, 2023

What started as a bit of haze and a whiff of smoke on Wednesday has smothered Cody, northern Wyoming, and several other states with the kind of hazardous conditions usually reserved for the worst days of summer. And it’s all billowing from the nation’s northern neighbor.

The National Weather Service Office in Riverton has issued a Special Weather Statement for reasons obvious to many in northern Wyoming. A weak cold front is dropping southward across the area, with Canadian high-pressure building into the area behind it. This system is carrying smoke from multiple wildfires in western Canada – thus, the smoke.

But what’s become an inconvenience for Wyomingites is already a severe and worsening situation for Canadians.

WeatherNation reports multiple large fires are burning in the Northwest Territories and the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. Breezy, warm weather is literally fanning the flame, helping it spread through a thoroughly dry region. The situation is so severe some Canadian officials currently describe many of these fires as “out of control.”

Natural Resources Canada Fire Danger Map 05-18-23

Courtesy Natural Resources Canada/Government of Canada

Unfortunately, this means the skies of northern Wyoming will stay smoky, at least for the next 48 hours. There’s a chance the haze to be even heavier on Friday.

AirNow grades current air quality in northern Wyoming within a range from Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in the Bighorn Basin and Yellowstone National Park to Red (Unhealthy) in Gillette and northeastern Wyoming.

These conditions come with reduced visibility and potential health risks for anyone working outside. Therefore, both AirNow and the N.W.S. Riverton advise everyone to avoid working or recreating outdoors if possible. Otherwise, stay extra cautious and avoid prolonged exposure to the air.

As for Canada, the nation’s monumental firefighting effort is far from over. Yahoo News reports around 2,500 firefighters and 400 military personnel are already responding to the fires, which have already burned over half a million hectares of forests and grasslands.

The Canada Interagency Forest Fire Center has formally requested assistance from other countries – the United States, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. Many nations are already responding, including U.S. Forest Service firefighters from the Pacific Northwest.

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