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How Long Will The Bad Air Quality Continue In NYC, Northeast?

Air quality continues to suffer as a result of Canadian wildfires, but may abate by early next week. 

The New York City skyline looked otherworldly this week as a red sun appeared in a dark orange sky. This was a scene transformed by thick smoke that originated from wildfires burning in the Canadian province of Quebec, and it may get worse before it gets better.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, who specializes in weather forecasts for Canada, said the additional plumes of smoke from wildfires in Quebec will blow over parts of the northeastern and midwestern United States through most of the week.

New York City and areas in New England could see some improvement in air quality Thursday and Friday, as a shift in the winds will direct the smoke toward southern Ontario, Ohio and Pennsylvania. However, while the air quality will improve near the Atlantic coast, it could become worst in and around Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit.

Smoke shrouds the skyline of midtown Manhattan as the sun rises in New York City on June 7, 2023, as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a dystopian haze, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish gray and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside.

The weekend could bring another downturn in the air quality across the mid-Atlantic and New England.

“By Saturday, winds may send some smoke farther east once again,” Anderson explained, meaning air quality could worsen again just as the weekend gets underway.

Anyone who spends a prolonged time outdoors could experience difficulty breathing and throat irritation due to the smoky air.

It might not be until next week when the smoke is swept away and air quality improves.

“A significant shift in the weather pattern is expected by early next week, as a storm may form over the Midwest,” Anderson said. “[This] will completely shift the winds and force the smoke back to the north in Canada.”

The storm could also deliver much-needed rain to the parched Midwest, Northeast and regions of Ontario.

Any rain is welcome in these areas since a prolonged spell of unusually dry conditions has caused a flash drought to develop, causing lawns to turn brown and river levels to plummet.

This week’s smoky sky could be a preview of what’s to come throughout the summer in the Northeast.

“The fires will likely continue to burn over Quebec into the summer, as they are in remote, heavily wooded areas,” Anderson explained.

“Most of Canada’s firefighting efforts are focused to save homes and other properties that are farther away from the bigger fires,” he added.

In this GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Monday, June 5, 2023 at 7 p.m. EDT and provided by CIRA/NOAA, smoke from wildfires burning in Quebec, Canada, top center, drifts southward. (CIRA/NOAA via AP)

Additionally, AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters is predicting an active wildfire season across the western United States, especially in the Northwest where the wildfire activity will peak in August and September.

Smoke from fires in this region of the country could also contribute to hazy skies over the central and eastern U.S., similar to the recent smoky spells related to fires in Canada.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld

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