BY George C. Upper III, The Western JournalJune 7, 2023
4 months ago

Major Cities Declare 'Code Red' as Hazardous Air Smothers the Northeast

Residents of several cities in the northeast portion of the country were under "code red" air quality warnings Wednesday and were expected to see consistently poor air quality for the next several days.

Portions of the country from Washington, D.C., to New England and as far west as Wisconsin and Minnesota were seeing hazy skies because of smoke from numerous Canadian wildfires, D.C.'s WRC reported.

The "code red" air quality index means that "unhealthy" levels of pollutants -- in this case, particulate matter from smoke -- could lead "[s]ome members of the general public [to] experience health effects" and that "members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects," according to AirNow, a U.S. government-run website.

Smoke from 413 wildfires in Canada was so great that it could be seen form the International Space Station.

WRC reported that 26,000 residents of Canada were under evacuation orders due to wildfires that had already burned nearly 9 million acres.

"We got a lot of sunset photos that were very vibrant with that glow of the sun," WNYW meteorologist Britta Merwin said.

"But to see this haziness over the sky, it's enough smoke particulate in the air that this could be a concern for air quality, not only for sensitive groups but for just about everybody that lives in the Northeast," she added.

The  smoke was so bad in the Philadelphia area that it led several residents to call 911 Tuesday because they thought something near them was on fire, KYW-TV reported.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection issued code red-related "Air Quality Action Days" for both Wednesday and Thursday, KYW said.

Delaware also issued the code red for Wednesday and officials told the outlet that they "anticipated" having to do the same thing for Thursday.

"Anyone, regardless of health conditions, is advised to limit strenuous activity outdoors," KYW said. "Sensitive groups should avoid physical activities outside in those conditions."

Grant Gilmore, a meteorologist at KYW, tweeted that things were looking a little better in the Philadelphia area Wednesday morning than they had the previous day, but he expected pollutant levels to rise again as the day went on.

"Outdoor activities may have to be limited today, especially after school," he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: George C. Upper III, The Western Journal

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