Canadian Wildfire Smoke Causing Air Quality Problems in Iowa
It would be easy to blame the current haze in the air on country legend Willie Nelson. But sadly, this smoke isn't from Willie's bus that pulled out of town after his show in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday night. Wildfires in Canada are the culprit as numerous fires to our north continue to burn out of control.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that wildfires began near Alberta, Canada in early May, fueled by dry weather and strong winds. More blazes erupted, and as of May 10th, there were 136 wildfires burning in Canada, 31 of which were uncontrolled. Nearly 30,000 residents have been evacuated from Alberta and nearby British Columbia. The smoke from those fires, thousands of miles away, is being seen here in Iowa.
The smoke from those wildfires sits between 15,000 and 20,000 feet in the air, creating cloudlike cover and resulting in red, hazy sunsets, according to the Gazette. You probably noticed this early in the week here in Eastern Iowa. Round two of the smoke is on the way and will sit lower to the ground, creating more of a health risk. Parts of northwest Iowa began to see this on Thursday.
So, how bad will the air be in Iowa this weekend? The Gazette reports that on Thursday the Air Quality Index and Smoke Map reported a wave of unhealthy air passing into Iowa. Residents who are sensitive, like older adults, children, and those with heart issues would likely experience breathing issues first. As the smoke settles, the air will then become unhealthy for nearly everyone. Experts suggest that at-risk groups move activities indoors and all Iowans should avoid long periods of exertion and take breaks during outdoor activities, according to the Gazette.