New York City is ‘code red’ for unhealthy air quality as smoke from Canadian wildfires pouring into the northeast reached dangerous levels on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service alert was issued for New York’s five boroughs as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties until midnight.
A “red flag” warning has been declared for parts of New Jersey, with conditions in the northeast expected to peak Tuesday afternoon.
The unhealthy air seeping into the city is due to smoke from a fire last week in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia that affected quality levels from New York to Washington, DC.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 160 forest fires were still burning in Quebec, including at least 114 that are out of control. The recent wildfires have been described by Canadian federal officials as one of the worst fire seasons in Canada.
A photo of the smoky sky that blanketed New York. An air quality alert was issued Tuesday by the National Weather Service for Manhattan, the five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties until midnight.
Heavy haze is seen over the Brooklyn Bridge this week due to wildfires in Canada. Air quality in the city’s five boroughs is worsening and has reached levels in the 150s, according to AirNow, a U.S. government platform that tracks system-based air quality – zero considered the healthiest and 500 most unhealthy air
A firefighter is pictured putting out a forest fire in Quebec on Sunday. There have been more than 480 wilderness firefighters on the ground battling the blazes that have destroyed acres of land
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has urged residents to save energy and reduce pollution by using public transportation, turning off lights in unoccupied areas and using fans to circulate the air, until the smoke passes.
AirNowa US government platform, monitors air quality and rates it between zero and 500 – zero being considered the healthiest.
New York City’s rating is showing levels now reaching 150, according to AirNow. In Ottawa, the capital of Canada, this level is almost 250, Bloomberg reported.
The Environmental Protection Agency has urged New Yorkers to limit outdoor activities until smoke passes over the area.
“Just take a few precautionary steps to make sure you don’t overwork yourself, putting yourself in a situation where you may be negatively affected, knowing that the air quality is definitely worse than usual,” meteorologist John Homenuk told the gothamist.
A haze of smoke over Boston captured by an EarthCam
A view of the Manhattan skyline covered in mist
A tweet posted by the National Weather Service informing the public of the smoky conditions
Since the fires started burning, there have been more than 480 firefighters on the ground, many of whom have come from different provinces to help.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Quebec can usually fight about 30 fires, but is now stretched.
“When I talk to the premiers of other provinces, they have their hands full,” Legault said at a briefing in Quebec City, he said.
There were 324 fires across Canada on Friday and on Monday it had risen to 413, and by late afternoon the number jumped again.
Civil Protection Minister Bill Blair said “the situation remains serious”.
“The images we’ve seen so far this season are some of the worst we’ve seen in Canada,” Blair said.
“Current forecasts for the next few months indicate the potential for continued above-normal fire activity.”