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Poor Air Quality Grips The New York Metropolitan Area As The Canadian Wildfire Goes On

A fiery, red sun rose in a sky packed with smoke Tuesday morning unusual for New York with strong haze coming from Canada.
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A fiery, red sun rose in a sky packed with smoke Tuesday morning. Wildfire smoke from Canada transformed the morning sunrise across parts of the East into an orange, photo-worthy haze.

Heavy smoke shrouds buildings in Times Square as the sun sets on June 6, 2023, in New York City. GARY HERSHORN/ACCUWEATHER 

Photos and videos flooded social media Tuesday morning, capturing the eerie glow of the sun as it lifted above some of the most famous skyscrapers in New York City. The Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt and the Chrysler Building in New York City were enclosed in an orange haze Tuesday.

While the smoke created jaw-dropping scenes across the Northeast Tuesday morning, it has also prompted a large swath of air quality alerts.

“Smoke is made of gases and particles, the same pollutants which are responsible for poor air quality,” Dr. Boris Quennehen, an air quality scientist with Plume Labs, said.

As the smoke is forecast to continue spreading across parts of the East this week, an air quality alert has been issued for New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.

This alert means air pollution concentration in the region will be unhealthy for people with heart or lung disease, children, and adults over 65. The alert warned these people to limit their time outdoors.

“Exposure to elevated levels of fine particles such as wood smoke can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals and aggravate heart or lung disease,” the National Weather Service alert said.

Air quality was listed as “unhealthy” in New York City on Tuesday morning. PLUME LABS/ACCUWEATHER

As of Tuesday morning, the air quality in New York City was listed as “unhealthy.” It is expected to remain at the “unhealthy” level through at least Friday. AccuWeather rated asthma conditions as “very high,” meaning weather conditions can irritate the airways and cause an increased risk of asthma symptoms.

According to Quennehen, this is the worst air quality New York City has experienced from wildfire smoke since at least 2019.

Farther north, in Syracuse, New York, the haze from the wildfire smoke has significantly reduced visibility. As of 12 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the Syracuse Hancock International Airport reported a visibility of only 1.75 miles, due to the overcast and hazy skies, according to data from the NWS.

A map of the air quality across the Northeast. COURTESY/ACCUWEATHER

AccuWeather forecasters say the wildfire season in Canada got off to a devastatingly early start. As of early June, more than 8 million acres of land have been scorched by wildfires across Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC). The CIFFC was tracking more than 400 active fires across the nation Monday.

“Intense wildfires have been burning in Alberta, Canada, for more than a month now. Depending on the weather conditions, the smoke from these wildfires can be transported on very large distances, in different directions and at different altitudes,” Quennehen said. “Denver, Colorado, [was] impacted by smoke from the Canadian wildfires two weeks ago, and now it’s the Northeast U.S.”

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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