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Wildfire Smoke Chokes Midwest And Northeast, Relief Expected For Fourth Of July

Record-setting wildfires in Canada cause poor air quality, but a storm system may disperse smoke

“Poor air quality as a result of smoke from the record-setting wildfires in Canada has been plaguing portions of the Midwest and Northeast this week,” said AccuWeather forecasters, but some relief is expected ahead over the early parts of the Fourth of July holiday week,” said AccuWeather. 

As of Thursday morning, air quality alerts from the National Weather Service were in effect across more than a dozen states from Minnesota to Rhode Island. “Pollution from the smoke was in the ‘unhealthy’ to ‘very unhealthy’ range in cities such as Chicago. Detroit and Pittsburg,” said Plume Labs, an AccuWeather-owned air quality company.

“For parts of the Northeast, it may get worse before it gets better, with thicker smoke and poor air quality expected to arrive in portions of New England and the New York City tri-state area late this week,” said AccuWeather forecasters. While it may not be a repeat of the apocalyptic, orange-hued scenes of a few weeks ago, the air will still be unhealthy for most.

The concentration of smoke increased over the Midwest and Northeast in recent days due to a flow of air out of the North as a departing low-pressure system was replaced by high pressure. While skies typically clear as pressure rises, the shift in wind direction provided the perfect opportunity for the wildfire smoke to be funneled south into the region.

Wind direction will shift again into the weekend as low pressure returns. Rather than coming from the north, the wind will become more westerly and even southerly, allowing the smoke to clear some and the plume to move back toward Canada. ACCUWEATHER.

“A storm forecast to move eastward across the Midwest and into the Northeast this weekend may be enough to disperse some of the worst smoky conditions,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“That dispersion of smoke would be good news for those with outdoor plans over the weekend ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. However, forecasters warn that it will not be like flipping a switch and going from polluted to clean air,” said AccuWeather.

“Since the coverage of the smoke is so extensive and humidity levels are likely to climb, the air is unlikely to become pristine, and some haze will persist,” said Sosnowski.

Despite the prospects of some lingering haze over the weekend and early next week, air quality should markedly improve. AccuWeather forecasters expect the air quality index to settle in the code yellow or ‘moderate’ range for most areas, meaning the vast majority of the population would not have to limit time spent outdoors. However, pockets of smoke that settle into deeper valleys may take longer to disperse, keeping air quality in a more unhealthy range for a longer amount of time there.

The dispersion of smoke would be good news for those with outdoor plans over the weekend ahead of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. ACCUWEATHER.

Additionally, residents in the Midwest and Northeast will likely have to dodge some showers and thunderstorms from the pesky, slow-moving storm system. While any given day will not be a washout, when storms do roll through they will produce downpours and dangerous lightning due to the expected abundant amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

As the summer goes on, the Eastern U.S. may not be done with the smoke or poor air quality yet.

“With the likelihood that forest fires will continue in southern Canada deep into the summer, occasional plumes of smoke can head south into the northern U.S.,” said Sosnowski. “The next opportunity for that could come as early as next week.”

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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