Millions of people in subways across the US East Coast have been cordoned off by out-of-control Canadian wildfires, the destructive smoke lingering above major US cities for a second day in a row.
Residents of major metros including New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia woke up to find their iconic skylines shrouded in an eerie yellow haze, leaving many wondering how long the smog is expected to last.
Through Thursday, flights were periodically delayed out of LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Newark airports as the FAA scrambles to deal with ongoing travel chaos.
And with 75 million Americans currently below some level of air quality warning, winds are expected to push much of the headline-grabbing yellow hue seen over New York City on Wednesday toward the states. of the mid-Atlantic.
Meteorologists predict the smoke, which has affected at least 16 states, could last into the weekend in some places.
A man talks on his phone as he gazes through the haze from the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ, Wednesday, June 7, 2023
A map of the impact wildfire smoke has had on air quality levels on the East Coast. Purple sections are considered ‘dangerous’, red is ‘unhealthy’, orange is ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ and yellow is ‘moderate’
The source of the smoke is a fleet of more than 400 active wildfires over the Canadian border, where many fires have been burning for several weeks.
A weather front blowing from the Atlantic Ocean over Nova Scotia then sent the dangerous plumes south, where they quickly choked out many major East Coast hubs.
And a further push south is expected to see smoke hit several mid-Atlantic states, with the fog path now expected to cover Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington.
Air quality levels are expected to improve for many over the next few days, but officials have warned that it is variable and can be affected by factors such as wind direction and the strength of wildfires .
Members of the Marine Corps train for an upcoming parade under skies blurred by Canadian wildfires near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, U.S. June 08, 2023
The sun rises over One World Trade Center as Manhattan wakes up to the second straight day of smoke
However, as New York saw a visible change in the smoke on Thursday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams admitted the Big Apple may not be done with the fog yet.
“The large plume we saw yesterday passed through the city and we expect a gradual improvement until early afternoon today,” he told a news conference.
“But a sea breeze this afternoon could blow the smoke back over the city.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul added that while the Big Apple may have cleared Thursday morning, residents should remain cautious given the risk of high pollution levels.
“We could have some respite. But I don’t want people to let their guard down and get complacent about it, because we have to be prepared for the tide to turn,” she said.
NEW YORK OPEN: A horse at Belmont Park in Elmont, where all practices and races were canceled Thursday due to poor air quality
WASHINGTON, DC: Members of the Marine Corps Honor Color Guard rehearse as the sun rises over a thick layer of smoke, Thursday, June 8, 2023
Fresh winds are expected to push smoke across Washington DC on Thursday, with Baltimore also in its path.
The nation’s capital saw its air quality index reach over 290, a level considered “dangerous”.
The air quality index soared throughout the morning, with “dangerous” or “very unhealthy” scores recorded from Washington to Philadelphia and New York.
Health experts have warned that breathing in the fog can be as damaging as smoking 22 cigarettes a day. Smog nanoparticles are so small that they can enter the lungs and bloodstream, with side effects such as eye and throat irritation and breathing problems.