Last June, New York was blanketed with wildfire smoke from Canada. It not only cast a haze across the skies, but also prompted air quality warnings from health officials.

What You Need To Know

  • Canadian wildfire smoke could impact New Yorkers again this summer

  • Canada's Minister of of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, said early projections show potential for early and above-normal fire activity

  • Whether the fires burn in western or eastern Canada, the smoke can circle the globe within 24 hours

Glenn McGillivray, managing director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, said this could be a more prevalent issue for New Yorkers.

"We have to learn how to live with fires somehow, and we’re not going to have much of a choice going forward," McGillivray said. "We had about the same number of fires that we usually get. We just had a lot of large fires last year and by the end of it we had over 18 million hectares burned, which is an all time record for Canada."

Canadian officials warned this year could be just as bad as last year.

"Early projections for 2024 indicate the potential for early and above normal fire activity over the spring months as the result of ongoing drought, warmer than normal temperatures, and drier than normal forecasts," said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canadian minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

What is yet to be known is whether these wildfires will burn in eastern or western Canada. Either way, McGillivray said no matter where they are, the smoke can circle the earth within 24 hours.

He recommended people use their air conditioners or air filters if they find themselves in a hazy environment again. Communities should also consider opening clean air spaces for people to retreat to when they have no way to filter the air in their home. As always, limit time outside when air quality alerts are in effect.

As far as prevention, areas prone to fire could benefit from prescribed burns, but at the end of the day, McGillivray says it’s all about learning how to mitigate damage.

"Fire is absolutely natural," he said. "We just don’t need it getting into the communities, and we don’t need the smoke from it getting into communities."