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Canadian wildfire smoke causing hazy skies, poor air quality in the US

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – People around the Northeast are seeing (and smelling) the aftermath of the massive fires burning in Canada.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 400 fires were burning around Canada, from British Columbia and Alberta in the west, to Nova Scotia and Quebec in the east.

For much of May, smoke was billowing out from the wildfires primarily in Western Canada. Denver was hit especially hard by smoke, making the skies look apocalyptic.

However, the main source of this week’s smoke is from newer wildfires in the province of Quebec, just north of New York.

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, jumped to 172 for Syracuse Tuesday afternoon, which is an unhealthy level for everyone regardless of overall health conditions. New York City ranked among the worst air quality in the world Tuesday, according to IQAir.

In addition to New York state, Connecticut was nearly entirely shrouded in unhealthy air, according to AQI readings Tuesday afternoon.

Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Jersey had air quality categorized as “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” as did parts of the Midwest, including portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana. Parts of Kentucky and Virginia were also seeing poor air quality.

These plumes of smoke are being transported south into the Great Lakes, New York State and Northeast compliments of a persistent north-northwest flow at many levels of the atmosphere.

The wildfire smoke is expected to continue being an issue for the Northeast through Friday. While it will have varying degrees of thickness, the winds in the atmosphere will still be coming from Quebec, the source of the smoke.

It won’t be until the weekend that low pressure will move east of the Canadian Maritimes and winds across the Northeast will switch to a southerly direction.

The smoke will get gradually thinner as you head south through Virginia and the Carolinas.

As for the rest of the country, some occasional bouts of smoke are possible across the Midwest, but by and large, Canadian wildfire smoke should stay to the north.

Smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires in Bridgeport, New York. (Photo from Thomas Catanesye from Bridgeport)

The AirNow map below shows current air quality conditions around the U.S. Orange indicates the AQI is between 101 and 150 and is unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma. Red means the AQI is between 151 and 200 and unhealthy for everyone.

Purple means the AQI is between 201 and 300 and is very unhealthy.

When air quality is very bad, experts suggest staying indoors as much as possible. Running an air filter inside can improve the air quality of your home or apartment.

If you have to be outside, wearing an N-95 or P-100 can help filter out harmful small particles and protect your lungs.

Those most at risk for complications from poor air quality are people with heart disease, asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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