Siberian fires bring smoke to Southcentral, Eastern Alaska

Image of Siberian wildfires on June 28, 2020 from European Space Agency.

Historic wildfires in Siberia are causing haze and worsening air quality in Southcentral and Eastern Alaska.

While air quality is still in the healthy range, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s air monitoring stations, it appears to be slowly getting worse. 

Division of Forestry spokesperson Tim Mowry said that he started getting calls about smoke this morning from observers in Anchorage and Palmer to as far away as Tok and Northway.

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“There’s nothing in Alaska or Canada that is responsible for this, and Siberia is the likely candidate. When you look at the satellite imagery that’s out there, it definitely shows you this big cloud of smoke moving across the Bering Sea,” he said.

The fires come after the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reported a record-setting temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on June 20. The Siberian Times reported that wildfires are burning farther north than ever recorded. 

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Russia’s wildfire monitoring agency, Avialesokhrana, reported over four million acres on fire on Thursday, July 2 and 332 active fires.

Mowry said the duration of the smoke in Alaska will depend on the weather pattern, but that with the amount of forest burning in Siberia, it will take a substantial amount of rainfall before the fires there subside.