Quebec Fires Raging, Smoke Streaming into New England

By By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist,
May 30, 2010, 10:46:37 AM EDT

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Over 50 wildfires are currently raging across the Canadian province of Quebec. Gusty winds are ushering the smoke into parts of northern New England.

The forest fire protection agency in Quebec, SOPFEU, stated the number of fires burning across Quebec totaled 52 this morning. Nine of these blazes are still out of control.

The majority of the fires are charring acres north of the heavily populated St. Lawrence Valley. The highest concentration of fires is across central Quebec.


Gusty northwesterly winds are hampering efforts of firefighters today. The winds threaten to rapidly spread any new or existing wildfire.

The winds are also steering smoke from the fires southeastward into the St. Lawrence Valley and northern New England.

The Maine Sunday Telegram reported that the Maine State Police received more than 30 smoke complaints calls this morning. Portland's police and fire departments have also been busy fielding similar calls.

The Portland International Jetport began reporting smoke during the midday hours. The smoke lowered visibility to three miles.

The smoke could continue to funnel into northern New England through the first part of Monday. Residents with respiratory problems should limit their time outdoors.

The winds will shift Monday afternoon, steering most of the smoke away from the St. Lawrence Valley and northern New England.

The winds will change direction ahead of a storm system, set to spread showers and thunderstorms across Quebec Monday into Tuesday morning.

Rainfall from this stormy weather will provide some assistance to firefighters across Quebec. However, any thunderstorm could spark lightning well away from its center and rain. These stray lightning bolts could ignite more fires.

Later in the week is when the weather could prove to be more beneficial to firefighters. Substantial rain may grace the fire-ravaged parts of Quebec if a storm treks through the St. Lawrence Valley.

It is also possible that the system heads farther east, keeping the needed rain away from the fires.

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