Even as smoke from hundreds of wildfires in Canada begins to clear in the Northeast US, millions of people in North America remain under air quality advisories. Learn more about the persistence of moderate to unhealthy air quality over a large area of the United States and Canada. Find out how climate changes and human actions have contributed to the current situation and how experts expect a gradual improvement in the climate. Get the details on the number of fires in Canada and the affected areas in North America.
Millions still under US air quality advisories as weather eases Canada wildfires
Millions of Americans are still under air quality advisories Friday, even as smoke from hundreds of wildfires in Canada begins to clear into the northeastern United States.
Air quality, which ranges from moderate to unhealthy, continues to be present across a wide swath of the United States and Canada, from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast, the US National Weather Service reported, although “some improvement is expected.” » continue through the weekend.
A favorable change in weather has provided temporary relief from the wildfires in Canada, but experts warn that decades of climate change and human actions in forests have set the stage for the country’s forests to continue to burn.
As of Friday, there were 421 active fires, up from 441 on Wednesday, according to the Canadian Wildfire Center. The number of fires considered out of control also decreased from 256 on Wednesday to 230, helped by rains in some areas of Quebec.
So far, more than 43,000 km² have been consumed by fire this year, making 2023 the second worst year on record in terms of fires, and it is expected to surpass the 2014 milestone this weekend.
The impact has been felt across North America.
On Thursday night, the Biden administration postponed a planned event to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride month at the White House, while public schools in New York City and Philadelphia implemented remote teaching on Friday. The smoke affected air quality as far as North Carolina, while fires were still raging, many out of control, in various areas of Canada.
“Smoke from the wildfires in Canada continues to be carried south by winds, resulting in moderate to unhealthy air quality in parts of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Ohio Valley and Midwest on Friday,” it reported. the National Weather Service.
“Surface smoke associated with the Canadian wildfires is expected to continue to affect regions from the Great Lakes to the mid-Atlantic, with reduced air quality. Northwest flow around a low pressure system over the northeast will continue to carry smoke over the region, but should slow and eventually shift to a more westerly direction on Saturday.”
The entire state of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Indiana are under air quality alerts, CNN reported, while parts of Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina are also under alert.
New York City, which at points on Wednesday and Thursday had the worst air quality of any large city in the world, experienced improved conditions Friday morning, with an air quality index of 68, according to AirNow, a government website. This placed the city in a “moderate” rating according to Air Now; At some points this week, the air quality index in New York topped 400, meaning the air was listed as “dangerous.”
In Philadelphia, trash pickup and street maintenance have been suspended to protect workers from polluted air, while Connecticut officials in Bridgeport have activated the city’s cooling center protocol, which is normally used only on holidays. warmer, so residents can escape the unhealthy air at designated libraries and senior centers.
Joe Biden postponed a pride month celebration with thousands of guests on the White House lawn because of poor air quality in Washington on Thursday. The event will be held on Saturday instead. The event is intended to show strong support for LGBTQ+ people at a time when the community is under attack from Republican-led state legislatures across the country.
Haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada blanket New York City. People ride bicycles on Sixth Avenue as haze and smoke from the wildfires in Canada blanket New York City, New York, USA, on June 7, 2023. Essential workers in New York suffer the consequences of poor air quality caused by forest fires. Read More It is still unclear when more than 12,000 Canadians displaced by the approaching fires will be able to return home, Quebec’s public safety minister François Bonnardel said, according to the Associated Press.
More than 639,000 hectares (2,467 square miles) have been consumed by fire in the province, marking the worst fire season in Quebec’s history.
Hundreds of firefighters from around the world have flown into Canada and hopes are rising for rain to fall in some areas.
Quebec’s minister of forestry, Maïté Blanchette Vézina, said: “This sprint phase is over, we are now in a marathon phase. In the coming days and weeks we will work to contain those active fires, control them and finally extinguish them, “she said at a conference.
Yet officials in western Canada have watched in frustration and helplessness as the Donnie Creek fire in British Columbia continues to grow. As of Thursday afternoon, it was 344,725 hectares in size, and officials acknowledge that it is likely to keep burning until the fall.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this has been one of the most challenging wildfire seasons to date… 20,000 hectares is our 10-year average and we’ve already passed half a million hectares burned this spring,” Cliff Chapman said. of the British Columbia Forest Fire Service.