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Canadian smoke hits Florida after record-breaking wildfire season

On Tuesday, smoke from the recent wildfires in Canada reached Florida, adding to the growing list of states that have been affected by natural disasters in the United States. The state's air quality levels were deemed "unhealthy" in some areas, and many residents reported that the air carried a mild scent. There was also a decrease in visibility.

Will Ulrich, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Melbourne, FL, was shocked by the conditions, as he hadn't seen smoke like this in the last 20 years he's lived in Florida.

He stated to NBC, "I have lived in Florida for about 20 years, and this is the first time I can remember seeing such a thick blanket of smoke. Over the past 24 hours, we've experienced milky white, very hazy conditions across the peninsula."

According to Ulrich, the wildfire smoke originated from British Columbia and Alberta, as satellite imagery has shown. Since then, it has traveled thousands of miles to Eastern Canada through circulating winds and was carried into the Atlantic Ocean due to Hurricane Ophelia. This new occurrence of smoke has raised major concerns among citizens, who worry that these conditions could worsen in the future. Given that 2023 has been the worst year on record for wildfire smoke exposure in the U.S., researchers expect that it will only increase as wildfires become more common and intense due to climate change.

The wildfire smoke is also currently undoing decades of improvement efforts in the U.S. and Canada, with more than 69,000 square miles having been burned by wildfires in Canada so far. This is approximately nine times the typical amount of these natural disasters.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre also reported that about 795 wildfires were still burning in the country as of Tuesday afternoon, with approximately 50% of them labeled as "out of control."

The smoke in Florida will continue to linger until the end of the week, as morning winds are projected to push it over the Gulf of Mexico and its adjacent regions, according to Ulrich.

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