On Wednesday, Manhattan towers were obscured by the thick smoke, reducing visibility to half a mile and creating an eerie scene on an otherwise partly bright day in the Big Apple. As the smoke settled, locals noticed a scent reminiscent of campfires.
Wildfire smoke from Canada blanketed the eastern United States, including New York City, which set a record for the worst air quality in city history.
Passengers at Philadelphia International Airport and the other major airports serving the New York City metropolitan area experienced delays and cancellations due to the dense smoke.
The Yankees-White Sox game in New York City and the Philadelphia Phillies-Detroit Tigers game in Philadelphia were both postponed due to the smoke.
More than 100 million people are on an air quality warning, leaving apocalyptic images over major cities in the Northeast.
NYC has declared that fire stations and police stations would serve as distribution centers for masks.
On Tuesday, New York City’s air quality was the worst of any large city. Tuesday night’s air quality index (AQI) was 196, making it the worst globally. Delhi, India, was the second-worst city in the world.
Upstate in central New York, around Syracuse, the air quality index (AQI) on Wednesday morning was above 400, putting it squarely in the “hazardous” category.
New York City and Washington, DC stayed in the unhealthy range, while in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s air quality was once again above 200 on Wednesday morning, putting it in the “very unhealthy” category. Even at these low concentrations, the smoke might adversely impact human health, especially in vulnerable populations.
The smoke from the hundreds of wildfires burning in Canada is ushered in by a slow-moving low-pressure system centered over the coastal area of New England. The smoke is predicted to linger around for at least a few more days.
Despite the smoke’s presence along the U.S.-Canadian border for weeks, most of the particles were held at higher elevations by weather patterns, preventing repercussions on the ground.
Thursday morning could bring heavy smoke to the skies of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., according to forecast models. It’s possible that bad air quality in big cities could improve when the winds shift in the afternoon, but rural areas of the Northeast will continue to feel the effects.