Forest fire smoke drifting in from as far away as Siberia is making skies hazy in the Fort Saskatchewan area.
It’s the middle of fire season in the northern hemisphere – trees burning in Alberta, B.C., Alaska and Russia are sending smoke blowing across the country and planet, giving normally crisp blue skies a milky hue.
"You may not be smelling it down on the ground, but there is smoke up there,” explained Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak. “The last week or so here it's been a little bit more prevalent."
Smoke can carry for thousands of kilometres through the atmosphere, crossing oceans from one continent to another. Some large fires in the Northwest Territories a few years ago prompted reports of smoke in Europe, Kulak said.
“Certainly there are a lot of fires around right now. Some big ones in the southern interior of B.C. We're likely getting some smoke from those locations,” Kulak said. “But it can't be ruled out that some of the smoke that we're getting at least the last week may have been coming from a long way away.”
The recent smoke came ahead of a few days of high temperatures, the two combining to bring some particularly hot and hazy weather to the area. Hazy conditions are likely to appear on and off throughout the summer depending on where fires are burning and what direction the wind blows.
Rainfall can help clear away drifting smoke.
“Meteorologically we say that the raindrops scavenge the atmosphere. So basically just they eat up all the smoke particles and just wash them down to the ground and clean things up.”
Environment Canada issues advisories when fine particulate matter in the air poses an increased risk to human health.