Canada wildfire smoke pours into Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, causing poor air quality

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Unhealthy air quality returns to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes this week as dry conditions and warm temperatures fueled wildfires in Canada over the weekend, causing more smoke to spill into the northern tier of the U.S.

The FOX Forecast Center is tracking wildfire smoke thick enough to reduce air quality across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.

On Monday, smoky skies will also be a problem for portions of the Northeast near the U.S.-Canada border, but shifting winds will improve conditions over the next two days.

Due to the wildfire smoke, air quality alerts are in place for more than 11 million people in the U.S.

Wildfire smoke returns to northern US

Wildfire smoke from near Montreal and Ottawa in eastern Canada is causing unhealthy air across parts of the northern U.S.

People in parts of the Adirondacks in New York and in northern Vermont awoke to the worst air quality on Monday.


Wildfire smoke tracker on Monday, June 26, 2023.
Wildfire smoke tracker on Monday, June 26, 2023.
Fox Weather

According to the U.S. Fire and Smoke Map, the air in areas including Lisbon, New York, and Grand Isle, Vermont, is “very unhealthy,” the second worst rating on the air quality index (AQI).

According to the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont, smoke reduced visibility to 2 miles or less across Vermont and northern New York on Monday. 


Current air quality in the U.S.
Current air quality in the U.S.
Fox Weather

Conditions are expected to improve as southerly winds push the smoke back into Canada and smoke concentrations decrease later in the day. 

The smoke is not forecast to linger or cause issues like the red skies and worst air quality in history that New York and the Northeast saw earlier this month.

Poor air quality returns to Upper Midwest, Great Lakes


Wildfire smoke is forecast for the Great Lakes on Monday, June 26, 2023.
Wildfire smoke is forecast for the Great Lakes on Monday, June 26, 2023.
Fox Weather

Meanwhile, smoke from wildfires in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario is being pulled into the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and as far south as Iowa and Nebraska.

In the Great Lakes, air quality alerts are in effect for communities along Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

The AQI in Green Bay, Wisconsin, measured at 157 with “unhealthy” air. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued an Air Quality Advisory for the entire state lasting through Thursday at noon. The heaviest smoke will impact the eastern half of Wisconsin with the potential to reach “very unhealthy” on the AQI.


Wildfire smoke forecast for the Great Lakes on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Wildfire smoke forecast for the Great Lakes on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Fox Weather

In Michigan, areas along Lake Superior are seeing some of the worst air quality on Monday.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy issued an Air Quality Alert, which runs through Tuesday at 11 p.m. The AQI is forecast to range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy” at times.

What is the status of the Canadian wildfires?

This week, more than 460 active wildfires are burning across Canada, and about half of those are considered out of control. The worst wildfire conditions persist in Ontario and Quebec in eastern Canada, causing smoke to flow into the U.S. and as far away as Europe.

So far this year, more than 2,800 wildfires have started in Canada, burning over 7.4 million hectares (18.2 million acres), according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

Lightning likely sparked many of the hundreds of fires burning.

The smoke has enveloped the U.S. as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and more recently caused smoky skies across the Atlantic Ocean in northern Spain. 

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