While some areas of New England and other parts of the United States are seeing orange skies from Canadian wildfires, Maine is likely to be spared, experts say.
Thanks to a persistent area of low pressure sitting just south of Maine, the state will avoid the smoke from Canadian wildfires currently blanketing the mid-Atlantic region. The low pressure system is the same system that has brought the area cool and rainy weather over the past several days, according to The National Weather Service Office in Caribou.
“Right now all of the smoke is missing our area because of a low pressure over Maine,” said Anne Strauser, meteorologist with Caribou NWS. “The smoke from Quebec is circling around that big low, and we are like the center of that circle.”
It’s a bit like being in the calm eye of a hurricane. But in this case there is little to no risk the conditions outside the “eye” will cross over Maine.
Southern and western New England have seen some of the worst air quality in recorded history due to Canadian wildfire smoke. On Wednesday, New York City broke its record for the worst air quality the city has ever seen and was recently ranked as the worst air quality of any major city in the world.
Photographs taken in New York and New Jersey in recent days show eerie reddish cityscapes that have been compared to photos from Mars or shots from Hollywood futuristic movies.
While Maine will largely be spared, a trace amount of wildfire smoke could reach Maine later in the week when the weather pattern shifts, Strauder said.
“There might be some smoke that works its way up into Bangor or Down East,” she said. “But it will not be nearly as bad as the mid-Atlantic area.”
It will be similar to conditions earlier this spring when smoke from Alberta wildfires drifted into Maine creating hazy skies.
It’s not unusual for wildfire smoke to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles from its point of origin, Strauser said.
“All you need is the weather pattern to pick up that [smoke] plume,” she said. “As long as it gets caught in the prevailing winds it can travel long distances [because] it is such a fine particle.”
That is very unlikely to happen in this case.
“We would need new fires to start and a shift in the weather patterns,” Strauser said. “With the rain that is around that low [pressure] it’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon.”