Smoky skies may make a return to North Country this summer

The Harrietstown Town Hall, viewed from the Mountain Mist Custard parking lot in July 2021, was obscured by a smoky haze which traveled from hundreds of Canadian wildfires to the west. (Enterprise file photo — Aaron Marbone)

WATERTOWN — North Country residents may once again be seeing air quality warnings and smoke cover this summer.

David Thomas, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said there is no smoke in the immediate forecast, and normally, the weather service will forecast for smoke about a day in advance.

Thomas said that forecasting smoke is “relatively new” after last summer.

Smoke last summer came from wildfires in northern Ontario and northern Quebec. Those wildfires are still active under the snowpack, and it is anticipated that they will flare up again.

“I haven’t seen any smoke coming from there yet, but we’ll see how the next few weeks goes and see what happens,” Thomas said.

The fires have kept a “warm glow,” Thomas said.

Last summer, smoke began rolling in around late May to early June and air quality alerts were issued across the state.

If needed, the National Weather Service will put out air quality alerts with information on what to do if you are sensitive to the smoke.

Thomas said people and their four-legged friends should be following the same guidelines.

“I think the impacts will be the same whether you’re an animal or human being. If you’re really impacted by the pollutants and the smoke, stay inside where there’s less pollutants coming into your house,” he said.

Before 2023, wildfire smoke would fill the skies, but not leave as much of an impact on people. But with last year’s more vast wildfires in Canada, the smoke drifted south toward the North Country, resulting in the poor air quality in addition to the smoke that is normally seen from the Canadian fires.

“The smoke from the Ontario and Quebec (fires) were much lower in elevation as far as when it was being carried southward across our country, so it had much bigger impacts. As opposed to the wildfire smoke that we’ll get from time to time in the summertime,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said that how much smoke the north country sees depends on how much acreage is burned, but there are no estimates on that yet.


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