Smoke from Canadian wildfires reaches US and Minnesota due to air quality warning

The air quality warning for Minnesota issued Sunday remains active Monday.

With over 100 active wildfires burning in Canada, wildfire smoke has migrated across the border into the United States, prompting Minnesota officials to issue the state’s first air quality warning of 2024 on Sunday.

Several of Canada’s wildfires have been classified as “out of control,” according to authorities, who placed 40 of the 140 active fires in that category.

Most active wildfires, 91 to be exact, are occurring in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

In the US, wildfire smoke has reached states from Montana to Wisconsin, but is particularly heavy in Minnesota on Sunday.

The air quality advisory for Minnesota was issued Sunday and will remain in effect through Monday.

The air quality index (AQI) for much of northern Minnesota today is between 150 and 200, which is “unhealthy,” and has at times exceeded the AQI mark of 200, resulting in a “very unhealthy” zone.

Bemidji, a city in northern Minnesota, recorded an AQI of 212 on Sunday, with residents able to smell smoke in the air at those levels, ranking the city among the worst air quality locations in the world.

Minneapolis, Minnesota will experience moderate to heavy smoke rising to the surface overnight. Authorities are warning residents, especially those with allergies, to ensure their windows remain closed Sunday night through Monday morning.

By sunrise Monday, wildfire smoke across the U.S. will likely be much weaker, reaching moderate levels from Wisconsin to southern Minnesota.

By Monday evening, Omaha, Nebraska, is expected to experience cloudier skies due to smoke from the wildfire.

The impact of wildfire smoke in the United States is a growing concern and is expected to get worse, according to a study published in February.

The effects of wildfire smoke could pose frightening health risks to 125 million Americans by mid-century, according to the First Street Foundation.

In June 2023, smoke from the Canadian wildfires blanketed parts of the Northeast and Midwest in a thick, orange haze.

According to AirNow, 18 states, from Montana to New York and further south to Georgia, were under air quality warnings at the time. New York City tops the world’s worst air quality rankings by a landslide, according to IQ Air.

Wildfire smoke poses a frightening health risk to everyone, but especially to those with existing health problems. According to the EPA, wildfire smoke is linked to strokes, heart disease, respiratory disease, lung cancer and early death.