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Western wildfires bring smoke, hazy sky conditions to the Upper Peninsula

NWS Marquette explained that northwesterly winds brought in smoke particles to the U.P. overnight from wildfires in Minnesota and Ontario.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - You might have noticed some haze, even a heavy smoke smell outside Thursday morning.

And chances are, it wasn’t from your neighbor’s grill -- but from wildfires out west.

Wildfire season remains active and the smoke is making its way to the U.P. -- some of the fires not too far from us.

Meteorologist Brandon Wills of National Weather Service (NWS) Marquette points to last night’s weather system being of factor.

“As that cold front came through, we had northwest winds. And guess where the smoke came from? Minnesota and Ontario. Out further to the west, if you see haze throughout the day that’s because of the over 75 wildfires (there) that are uncontained right now across the U.S,” explained Wills.

Smoke particles coming into stagnant air, following the exit of a weather system.

It’s been an occasional pattern this summer revealing reddish, even orange sunrises and sunsets over the Upper Peninsula skies.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is the Air Quality Authority for the state.

They also provide information on taking action to protect your health -- reducing or avoiding any prolonged activity based on air quality level.

Conditions improved Thursday as the smoke and haze mixed out during the heat of the day -- perfect for outdoor recreation, especially for Marquette visitors enjoying a bike ride at Presque Isle Park.

“We were out in Denver for a short weekend last month, everything was extremely hazy,” said Bonnie Jorjorian of Evanston, IL, who was also joined by her husband Tom on the trip.

“My wife and I went to school up here back in the 70s. And we love Marquette and the weather has just been absolutely fantastic,” said John Warstler, who now resides in Horton Bay in Lower Michigan.

Despite the haziness, EGLE does not have any alerts active impacting the air quality in the Upper Peninsula.

“If something is prudent where we need to pay attention to it with regard to air quality, we’ll get some instruction on our end (sent to the NWS from EGLE), and then we’ll put out some sort of headline... a Special Weather Statement (from the NWS), where we say ‘Hey, please pay attention to this if you’re outside. You might smell the smoke and it might happen to bother some folks for prolonged periods of time,” said Wills.

The NWS Marquette Meteorologist also added though the U.P. is going through an abnormally dry to moderately dry period (in the northern tier), the weather forecast ahead may lessen the wildfire risk in the region.

“We do have a really good chance of some soaking, wetting rain which tends to limit the opportunity for wildfires developing -- probably (Friday) and some rainfall over the weekend. But there’s also an opportunity for us to get some warmer temperatures the next seven to ten days. So kind of a mix of some rainfall but we’ll starting getting a bit warmer, maybe humid for a few days as well,” Wills said.

NWS Marquette’s Fire Weather Page can be found HERE.

The air quality index for Michigan, plus information to protect your health based on air quality level can be found on EGLE Air Quality Division’s website HERE.

Active wildfire maps can be found online on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s (NWGC): Active Fire Mapping Program & Incident Information System

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