FARGO -- Thick smoke from Canadian wildfires is blanketing much of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota in heavy haze that blocks sunlight and will subdue temperatures.
Lightning sparked about 40 wildfires in forests in northern Saskatchewan, bringing the total fires in the province to 113, according to the Canadian Press.
High-altitude winds out of the northwest are carrying the smoke plumes to the area, and the wind pattern is likely to continue for the week, although likely will ebb and flow as winds shift, said Jim Kaiser, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.
“Those fires are probably going to be ongoing for awhile,” he said. “They’re very dry up there.”
Unusually dry conditions have gripped western Canada, and wildfires also are burning in Alberta and northern Manitoba, Kaiser said.
A weather service satellite image shows a vast plume of smoke running northwest to southeast from North Dakota’s Lake Metigoshe State Park area east to the Roseau, Minn., area extending south to the Edgely, N.D., area and east to the Willmar, Minn., area.
So why is the sun not shining bright today? It is the thick smoke from fires in Canada. pic.twitter.com/YmIVnP5cFp
- NWS Grand Forks (@NWSGrandForks) June 29, 2015
“The smoke’s going to be in the Northern Plains for much of the week,” Kaiser said, although it is difficult to predict how long the smoke, and resulting haze, will linger in the Red River Valley.
“This is really thick,” Kaiser said of the haze, adding that it is thick enough in some areas to keep temperatures from reaching the 80s.
It will take heavy rains to end the drought causing the Canadian wildfires. Until adequate rain falls, lightning strikes probably will spark more fires, he said.
More than 1,000 residents have been advised to leave their homes in Saskatchewan, the Canadian Press reported.