Monday, 7/1/2013:  Smoke from Canadian wildfires

Fires have been burning in the Province of Quebec since May, which is a normal process in the the forests of that area. This year the acreage burneis 10 times higher than what was burned by this point last year. So far 1.5 million acres are reportedly burned in Quebec, but none seem to have threatened towns or homes. 

However, all that smoke has been drifting southwest within the last week and has arrived in the Lake Superior region. The red sunsets from the past several nights are evidence of particle pollution up in the atmosphere. 

So far none of the pollution has made it down to ground level. The monitoring network across Wisconsin and at the Bad River Reservation show typical values that fall within the healthy category. The Bad River Air Quality office will continue observing wind patterns and smoke locations. This article will be updated if wildfire smoke increases and impacts human health.

This is a map of yesterday's smoke plume moving over Wisconsin from Quebec:

2013 07 01 NESDIS smoke map














Thursday, 5/23/2013:  Large prescribed fire in the Washburn Ranger District on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest this weekend

The U.S. Forest Service will be conducting a prescribed burn between May 24-26, with the exact date dependent on weather conditions. The prescibed burn is expected to be 2,500 acres in size and will be used to restore habitat in the Moquah Barrens of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The proposed burn will be about 26 miles west of Odanah, 18 miles west of Ashland, and 9 miles northeast of Iron River.

2013 05 23 rxburn map location 

The Bad River Air Progam is monitoring surface and upper-level wind forecasts to predict the trajectory of the smoke plume during this time period.

  • Forecast surface winds on each of the possible days are expected to be light from the south or east, which should keep any smoke and ash from the burn moving away from the Bad River Reservation.
  • Forecast upper-level winds will be backing more each day: 
    • Friday, upper winds will likely push the smoke plume to the northeast across the Bayfield Peninsula toward the Apostle Islands
    • Saturday, the smoke plume would tilt towards Port Wing and Cornucopia
    • Sunday the upper winds would push a smoke plume more northwest, across Port Wing, Oulu, and the mouth of the Bois Brule River.


2013 05 23 smoke plume forecast


While no negative air impacts are expected across the Reservation, those who are planning to spend time closer to the planned burn (the red shapes on the map), or in downwind areas highlighted in the previous paragraph, will need to plan accordingly. People with asthma and existing breathing conditions will be more susceptible to small degredations in air quality. Some ash is likely to fall from the sky closest to the burn area.

The U.S. Forest Service will be monitoring air quality around the prescribed burn. If air quality is drastically reduced, the burn will be scaled back, slowed down, or stopped. Several years ago a smoke plume from a prescribed fire was transported many miles by upper winds and reduced visibility at a hospital's heliopad 70 miles away. Because of that impact, that fire was stopped immediately. While this scenario is on the more extreme end, adequate precautions are required during all prescribed burns for any air quality impacts.

If the computer models that forecast the upper level winds drastically change, this page will be updated.




Friday, 5/17/2013:

Fire fighting crews were able to contain the fire Wednesday evening and the fire is being mopped up. Winds have shifted to the east and humidity has risen.

Winds are forecast to remain from the east or south until next week. Any remaining smoke or ash will be blown away from the Bad River Reservation. Caution is still urged for those that will spend time near the burned area.



Wednesday, 5/17/2013:

Air Quality Special Notice has been issued for Bayfield and Douglas Counties

 2013 05 17 germann rd picture

Due to the large Germann Road Fire in Douglas and Bayfield Counties producing smoke and ash, the Wisconsin DNR issued a special notice Wednesday afternoon. There are no monitoring sites located close to the burn location. With uncertainties in exactly how much particulate matter is being produced close to the fire, this special notice has been posted to alert people that symptoms of smoke exposure could be felt near the fire and in downwind areas.

Symptoms of smoke exposure include:

  • eye irritation
  • nose and throat irritation
  • breathing discomfort
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing

If any of these symptoms occur, move inside and try to limit exposure to outside air until the smoke plume disperses.


No ash has been observed this far away from the Germann Road Fire, and the smoke plume from the peak of the fire dissipated rapidly. Unless the fire control is lost, more smoke and ash is not expected.


2013 05 17 nws dlh wwa map

Air alerts are instanteously updated on the National Weather Service's front page, along with other severe weather watches and warnings. The National Weather Service website can be accessed at (this link). 

This screenshot (above) displays which counties are under the special notice (grey). 



Some important links:


Current fire danger level on the Bad River Reservation

Bad River's Burning, Burn Barrel, and Fire Prevention Ordinance

Bad River Natural Resource Department's Air Quality Program



Burn Permits

Due to the elevated fire danger, burning permits have not been issued since Monday, May 13th. Permits will not be issued until fire danger decreases.



Possible burning ban

If fire danger continues at elevated levels without adequate precipitation, a burning ban will likely be issued. Notices of any burning ban will be posted on the Fire Danger website, as well as the typical bulletin boards throughout the community.

Questions can be directed to the Warden or the Air Quality Specialist.



Bad River's Ambient Air Monitoring


Bad River Natural Resource Department continues to monitor local ozone levels and wind patterns. More information will be posted here if pollution across the Bad River Reservation increases, or if new alerts are issued for our area.

Below is a screenshot of monitored air quality across the state as of 08:00 Thursday morning.



2013 05 17 WI map monitoring