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Canadian wildfires drive smoke into North Idaho

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | May 20, 2023 1:09 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Smoke from wildfires in Canada continued to cause hazy conditions Friday in the Panhandle.

Air monitors throughout western Canada have indicated smoke has traveled over Calgary and down into North Idaho and beyond, according to Dan Smith, regional airshed coordinator for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, who spoke with The Press earlier this week.

States throughout the West and central U.S. have posted air quality alerts, according to national reports.

Locally, conditions are expected to improve over the weekend.

“High haze from Canadian fires should clear out Saturday,” said the DEQ’s North Idaho Air Quality and Burn Forecast for the weekend, released Friday.

Fires across western Canada have burned more than 1,800 square miles. Fires sending smoke into the Panhandle are mainly in the province of Alberta, north of Idaho.

Air quality in North Idaho is expected to be in the moderate category this weekend, improving to good by Sunday.

When air quality is moderate, it is considered acceptable; however, for a small number of individuals who are unusually sensitive to air pollution, there may be a moderate health concern.

The DEQ expects warm temperatures to reach near record values Saturday and afternoon thunderstorms are anticipated to continue throughout the weekend. A Sunday weather front should bring cooler temperatures.

photo

This map from the FireSmoke Canada website, the Canadian portal for information about wildland fire weather and smoke, shows the smoke dropping down into the U.S. and North Idaho. This was the current forecast for 5 p.m. Friday.