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Smoke from Canadian wildfires reaching U.S.; will it return to Virginia this summer?

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Smoke from more than 100 Canadian wildfires is once again reaching the United States, but will it impact the air quality in Virginia?

The short answer: Not any time soon.

“The smoke and haze from the fires in western Canada are in no hurry to spread into our neck of the woods,” said Thomas Kines, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “We would need a two- or three-day period of northwest winds above 5,000 feet to direct the haze and smoke in our direction and that doesn’t look likely in the foreseeable future.”

Wildfire smoke did prompt Minnesota to issue an air quality alert on Sunday and Monday. Wildfire smoke was also reported in states from Montana to Wisconsin.

Most of the current wildfires are in the British Columbia and Alberta provinces.

“Last year, our worst encounter with smoky skies occurred from fires in eastern Canada,” said Kines. “That smoke had less of a distance to travel than the smoke from the western Canadian fires.

“At this time there aren’t any significant fires in eastern Canada, nor do we expect any over the next several days,” Kines said.

In Virginia, the current air quality index, or AQI is good.

Last summer, 18 states in the U.S. were under air quality alerts due to wildfire smoke including Virginia.

Wildfire smoke can lead to coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, headache, chest pain and fatigue.

Exposure can be limited by spending less time outdoors and wearing an N95 when needed.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.