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Smoke from Siberian forest fires reached U.S., Canada

By
Adriana Navarro, Accuweather.com
Wildfires burn in the Krasnoyarsk region of Russia on Thursday. Photo by EPA/Russian Federation Service Aviation Forest Protection
Wildfires burn in the Krasnoyarsk region of Russia on Thursday. Photo by EPA/Russian Federation Service Aviation Forest Protection

The smoke from over 400 forest fires in Siberia reached Alaska and portions of the west coast of Canada by Wednesday, according to NASA.

A state of emergency was launched in the entire territory of the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions, in two districts of the Buryatia Region and in one district of the Sakha Region, TASS reported.

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All smoke can be hazardous, especially for the young or elderly.

However, NASA scientists don't believe the smoke will be traveling low enough in the United States to impact air quality.

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Siberia smoke

Smoke from a multitude of wildfires in Siberia has swept across the Pacific and reached Alaska and northwestern Canada. Photo courtesy NOAA/NASA

"The smoke travels at such high altitudes that it's unlikely to significantly impact air quality in the U.S., unless wind currents reach the surface," Atmospheric Scientist Colin Seftor said. Seftor works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and has been tracking the smoke through its journey, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said that a storm tracking from Russia across the Bering Sea and into Alaska had steered the smoke into the area.

"Smoke can still be an issue this weekend," Smerbeck said.

NASA identified the smoke through an aerosol index from the Suomi-NPP satellite's Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) instrument.

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According to Russia's Federal Forestry Agency, more than 6,671,845 acres of Siberian forest is currently ablaze across six different Siberian and Far East regions. It all adds up to about the size of Massachusetts.

Over 300 of the forest fires are burning in remote areas of Siberia that are "difficult to reach," the Avialesoohrana forest protection agency said, according to DW News.

The agency is not fighting the fires in the remote areas that are burning up to 7.12 million acres because "there was no threat to population centers and economic objects, and the projected losses through firefighting surpass the potential damage of the fires," according to a statement from the agency cited by the Interfax news agency.

"There will be a storm system crossing Siberia that will cause showers and thunderstorms over the fire areas this weekend, which will help to put out the fires, but lightning could also start new ones," Smerbeck said.

"The pattern may shift later next week as storms with rain and cooler air shift eastward into the western regions of the fire zones. It may take a while to reach the central and eastern fire zone areas," he added.

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