Canadian wildfire smoke turns US skies orange

Side by side comparison of Canadian wildfire smoke over a city vs clear skies.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Stephen Montag in Fort Lee, New Jersey, shared this comparison of a normal day versus June 7, 2023. Stephen wrote: “Right: View from my office of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey on a ‘normal’ day. Left: Same view today, due to the Canadian wildfires. Frightening and upsetting!” Thank you, Stephen. See our gallery of images of Canadian wildfire smoke below.

Read more: Red suns and moons are from wildfires

Canadian wildfire smoke covers northeastern US

The northeastern United States is suffering from hazy skies and poor air quality due to wildfires in Quebec, Canada. NASA’s Earth Observatory said that lightning sparked some of these wildfires. And Quebec’s fire prevention agency said that in an average year, they see about 300 hectares burned by this time of year (as of this writing), but this year, more than 226,000 hectares (872 square miles) have already burned. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore also said that the wildfire smoke should affect the United States for the rest of the week, with concentrations going up and down.

When under an air quality alert, people should consider modifying their activities and spending less time outdoors. It’s okay to skip that long run or move it indoors to a treadmill. Sensitive groups (children, the elderly, those with asthma, for example) may experience more serious health effects. You can check the map here to see which areas are under air quality alerts. And, as of this writing, New York City has the worst quality air in the world by a long shot.

The wildfire season in western Canada also got off to a bang earlier this year, with smoke from these fires affecting the U.S. as well.

EarthSky community members share smoky photos

EarthSky community members living in the hard-hit regions shared photos of what they’re experiencing at our community photos page. You can submit your photo here.

Reddish sun in deep gray sky behind a lamppost.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Nancy Ricigliano in Long Island, New York, captured this image on June 7, 2023. Nancy wrote: “No, this is not the Strawberry moonrise. This is the result of Canadian wildfires. This is what the sky looked like all day. In New York City, the U.S. Air Quality Index spiked to ‘hazardous’ levels. Pretty scary!” Thank you, Nancy.
A row of cars on the road in smoky air, with a pale yellow dot on each windshield.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | George Preoteasa in Milford, Pennsylvania, captured this image on June 7, 2023. George wrote: “I saw a bunch of cars on the road and they all were sporting this yellow-orange light on the windshield. An emergency? A convoy? Then I realized, it’s the reflection of the sun through the thick smoke that is currently affecting the U.S. Northeast. The smokiness of the air should be apparent in the picture.” Thank you, George.
Barely visible pink sun in a beige sky with a tree.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Lisa Ann Fanning in Monmouth, New Jersey, captured this image on June 7, 2023. Lisa Ann wrote: “The sun disappearing behind the smoke as it set. It was such an eerie feeling all day, with beige skies, and the fresh scent of fires that are burning over 1,300 miles away! Air quality for our area, not far across the bay from New York City, reached ‘Dangerous’ levels as businesses and schools shut down as the day progressed.” Thank you, Lisa Ann.
Closeup of deep pink rose in dim light with pink sun in gray sky behind.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Chantal Torchia in Old Bridge, New Jersey, captured this image on June 7, 2023. Chantal wrote: “The sun still looks pink due to the smoke, and then when I went to get my mail and saw the pink rose bush, I thought to myself, how strangely beautiful it is, that the sun is now very much colored like these flowers!” Thank you, Chantal!

Scenes from smoke-filled skies

A look at the Canadian wildfire smoke

Orbital view of northeast US with thick tan wisps over much of the land and white clouds farther north.
This image from GOES-16 shows smoke sweeping into New York and Pennsylvania on the morning of June 7, 2023. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.
Canadian wildfire smoke: Satellite view of Quebec, Canada, with streaks of white showing smoke streaming from fires.
This was the scene on June 3, 2023, over Quebec, Canada. The Canadian wildfire smoke is now streaming across the Canadian/ U.S. border into northeastern areas of the U.S. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view. Image via NASA/ MODIS.

Fire danger in parts of the northeast

And – to add fuel to the fire – portions of the northeast are under an alert for critical fire weather from Michigan into Pennsylvania and New Jersey. On June 6, 2023, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center said the northeast would have:

… dry and breezy conditions favorable for wildfire-spread, along with the highly unusual chance of some dry lightning strikes in the Mid Atlantic.

More wildfire smoke

Other northern regions of the U.S. and, of course, parts of Canada are dealing with the wildfire smoke as well.

Bottom line: Canadian wildfire smoke pouring across the border is turning skies milky white in the northeastern US. Poor air quality will remain in these regions for much of the week.

June 7, 2023

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Kelly Kizer Whitt

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