‘Plotting revenge on Canada’: American backlash over Canadian wildfire smoke makes little sense, expert says

There's a basic explanation for why smoke and air quality over the U.S. is worse than Canada

Americans in eastern cities like New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore are taking to social media to vent about poor air quality, as a result of wildfires burning in Quebec.

Air quality alerts have been issued to 16 U.S. states from Vermont to South Carolina this week. Meanwhile, flights bound for New York’s LaGuardia are being issued a ground stop as a result of poor visibility. In Philadelphia, Air Quality Index reached "hazardous" levels, with residents being encouraged to stay indoors.

RELATED: Eerie images of U.S., Canadian landmarks cloaked in smoke

'Blame Canada' sentiment spreads on social

Online, many people couldn’t help but put the blame on Canada for the exceptionally poor air quality and eerie haze that is blanketing many cities.

Others pointed out that this isn’t a problem unique to Canada.

Why is the smoke worse in the U.S.?

Jalena Bennett is a spokesperson with BlueSky Canada, a research organization that provides a smoke forecast for the entire country via FireSmoke.ca. She explains that the high concentration of smoke currently draping many eastern U.S. cities is the result of specific atmospheric conditions, like the dispersion caused by wind, that existed over southeastern Canada and northeastern U.S. at the time of the big fires that were happening in Quebec.

“If you look at the map, you’ll see these ...low pressure systems and high pressure systems that are able to generate winds,” she tells Yahoo News Canada. “Their specific orientation was creating a corridor that was shunting all the smoke from the Quebec fires straight over to where New York City’s region is.”

She adds that the dispersion of smoke isn’t just horizontal - smoke can be “mixed” in the atmosphere, thanks to the way winds and air rise up and down.

“There’s a possibility that smoke is able to rise up higher in the air when it’s hitting some major Canadian cities and therefore the smoke is still in the air but they’re not reaching ground level concentrations that are as bad as New York,” she says. “It just happens to be the specific meteorological conditions that exist in those specific regions at that time that the fires are burning that allow the smoke to spread in high concentrations as it has.”

Bennett says that smoke can spread in any way the winds are blowing, and in the past B.C. has been hit with significant amounts of smoke from wildfires in California. The bottom line is that it’s all dependent on the weather.

“At that time, of course, it wasn’t the United States to blame that Canada was getting all smoked up,” she says.

It’s just the way the winds are blowing if they blow over a fire and if the smoke is able to go with those winds, and the height it reaches in the atmosphere, the way it’s able to spread with faster or slower winds that allows it to get to a specific region with a specific concentration.Jalena Bennett, BlueSky Canada

Trudeau thanks Biden for support in fire fight

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to thank U.S. President Joe Biden for sending “critical support” in the form of hundreds of American firefighters, who are on the ground helping to battle the fires in Canada.