Noxious smoke from wildfires that engulfed New York City and other parts of the Northeast this week after flowing out of Canada was expected to spread further south on Thursday, enveloping millions of Americans in unusually dangerous pollution.
Like about 150 fires burned only in Quebec On Thursday, pollution in the US was expected to extend well beyond New York to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and other cities.
Even before dawn Thursday, pollution in parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey was officially « hazardous, » the highest level of six Environmental Protection Agency levels Air quality index. The largest concentrations of fine particulate matter were in and around Philadelphia, where authorities had issued a « code red” air quality warning. Washington’s air—officially « unhealthy »—was only slightly better.
Other pockets of pollution persisted farther west, over Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh and regions in between, government data showed. Air quality alerts for Thursday extended as far west as Indiana and as far south Caroline.
By Friday, the worst pollution is expected to move west, away from the northeast, as a stagnant low-pressure system that has been sending smoke south this week changes direction, the National Weather Service said. But as long as the fires in Canada continue, it will She said« the smoke could simply be directed towards other areas of the United States »
However, the further into the future, the less confident meteorologists are in predicting the effects and density of smoke.
This is partly because high-resolution computer models are updated once an hour and are shipped just under a day in advance. Furthermore, the models cannot predict how much smoke the fires will produce in the coming days.
By this weekend, the stubborn storm system that has persisted off the northeast coast all week and has been blowing smoke south may begin to recede, changing the direction of the wind from where the smoke is being sent and clearing the air in the region.