Why is Utah so smokey today? Canadian wildfires.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality recommends that Utahns with chronic health conditions take care of their bodies and “avoid exertion outdoors when in an area with visible smoke or haze.”

(Government of Alberta Fire Service/Canadian Press via AP) The Bald Mountain wildfire burns Friday, May 12, 2023 in Alberta’s Grande Prairie Forest Area. Smoke from Canadian wildfires has drifted into parts of northern and eastern Utah, the state air quality agency said Friday, May 19, 2023.

The wispy, white haze punctuating an otherwise sunny spring day in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah is the result of wildfire smoke blowing in from Canada’s already above-average wildfire year, state air quality officials said Friday.

“We are starting to see smoke from a wildfire in Canada on our monitors in northern and eastern Utah,” the state Department of Environmental Quality tweeted Friday afternoon. “We expect it to continue to move to the southeast and hopefully dissipate with the predicted winds by Sunday.”

The agency encouraged Utahns with chronic heart or lung conditions to take care of their bodies.

“Avoid outdoor exertion if you are in an area with visible smoke or haze,” the agency recommends.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s May 17 National Wildland Fire Situation Report, there have been 1,402 wildfires in Canada so far this year, about 340 more wildfires than the average. While the number of Canadian wildfires this year is 132% of normal, the total area of ​​acres burned is 1,605% of normal.

The county also reported 58 “uncontrolled” fires burning, of which 40 are “under control” and 93 are “under control”, and a further 15 fires have had a “modified response”.

Utah has an active wildfire named “Timber Top” burning in Washington County north of St. George, according to the state’s wildfire tracking information Friday afternoon. The agency also reported a False Alarm Desolation Canyon incident in eastern Utah and several controlled fires across the state.

Justin Scaccy

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