Genesee County, MI— Officials say changes in the weather have helped improve air quality in Genesee County despite ongoing wildfires in Canada.
While the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) extended its air quality advisory for Genesee County to Saturday, June 10, 2023, EGLE has since lifted the alert because of weather conditions, according to Jim Haywood, a senior meteorologist in EGLE’s Air Quality Division.
“Fortunately, that was the last day as clouds and rain moved in on Saturday and a change in wind direction helped push the heavier smoke out of the area,” Haywood said in an email.
Under the alert, officials advised Genesee County residents to limit time outdoors. But as of 5:20 p.m. Monday, June 12, the air quality index showed Flint at a range of 44 which is considered in good standing and states that the public can enjoy outside activities.
Haywood previously told Flint Beat that wildfires between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Ontario were impacting air quality in Michigan.
For the forecast this week, he said on Monday that “the area in Ontario still has some existing fires but no new ones and the fire danger alert has been reduced. As such, there [are] no additional smoke advisories that I can see in the near future.”
The fire danger rating between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury is low at the moment. That means there’s a lower degree of concern for fire ignition due to the weather or human-caused factors compared to the moderate, high or extreme ratings, according to Chris Marchand, a fire information officer at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. But, he said, fire conditions can evolve day-to-day due to weather.
Evan Lizotte, also a fire information officer with the ministry, added there are 10 active fires between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. Rain that hit the area over the weekend and on Monday helped reduce the fire hazard, which will assist firefighters with controlling the fires, he explained.
Some wildfire smoke is forecasted to move into the areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin on June 14, according to Haywood of Michigan’s EGLE. The smoke may reach Michigan, but it’d be “elevated smoke” that’s more typical of what’s seen in the state with smoke originating from fires in western regions, the meteorologist explained.
“By the time that smoke reaches us, it is several thousand feet up in the atmosphere,” Haywood said. “The effect will be similar to a thin cloud cover and colorful sunrises/sunsets. Fortunately, that smoke rarely filters down to the surface and becomes a problem for breathable air.”
Though Michigan is seeing a favorable forecast for the week, Haywood noted that summer is just beginning and conditions can always change.
“But for now,” he said, “things are looking good.”