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Map Shows Air Quality of US Cities Hit Hardest By Canada’s Wildfire Smoke

A large swath of the Eastern United States looked “like California at the peak of fire season” Tuesday, as a series of wildfires in Quebec sent plumes of smoke into the atmosphere.

According to a new map circulating online, several major cities are now facing extraordinary air quality issues.

Exacerbated by climate change and record seasonal heat, Canada is currently experiencing one of the worst starts on record to its yearly wildfire season. More than 6.7 million acres have already been burned across the country, particularly in eastern provinces like Quebec and Nova Scotia. In Quebec, roughly 150 fires are still active, forcing the evacuation of around 14,000 residents and sending massive amounts of smoke south into the U.S.

On Tuesday, Capital Weather Gang, a weather observation Twitter account operated by the Washington Post, shared an infographic map with air quality levels across a large chunk of the Eastern U.S., with levels getting worse the nearer a place was to the epicenter of the fires, and with unusually poor levels being reported in several states, including New York, Michigan, Minnesota, and most of New England.

“The smoke—making the Eastern U.S. look like California at the peak of fire season—is not normal,” the account stated. “The air is compromised from Minneapolis to DC to Boston, and the worst from western NY to [around] Ottawa.”

In a follow-up tweet, the account shared a look at the 12 worst cities in the world for air quality as of Tuesday afternoon. On account of the smoke, Toronto ranked fifth, behind cities like Delhi, India, and Jakarta, Indonesia, but still worse than Hanoi, Vietnam. New York City, not known for strong air quality in normal conditions, ranked seventh, worse than Shanghai, China. Detroit rounded out the ranking in twelfth.

Outside Canada, the worst effects of the smoke were felt in Western and Central New York, home to cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, and Syracuse. Looking further, alarming air quality levels can be found in a wide-ranging number of cities, including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

Portions of the mid-Atlantic region, from Michigan to New Jersey, on Tuesday, were also found to have the ideal dry conditions for their own wildfires, raising the possibility of new blazes in the U.S. that could worsen the situation from within.

“Strangely, the smoke situation in the East triggered by the fires in Canada could be worsened by new fires that may erupt between Michigan and New Jersey,” Capital Weather Gang added in a later tweet. “Dry thunderstorms—unheard of in the eastern U.S.—could even erupt.”

When Will The Air Quality Improve?

In a statement to Newsweek, Bob Larson, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, said that a storm off the coast of New England will play a big role in helping clear the skies in the northeast in the coming days.

“Moving forward, a large and nearly stationary storm system just off the coast of northern New England will maintain a northerly wind flow the remainder of this week, allowing the smoke to continue to be pushed south,” Larson explained. “We have witnessed various bands of smoke, some worse and lower in the atmosphere than others, spill south today. With this in mind, any given location over the northeast can experience a break from the very thick, low-level smoke from time to time over the next few days, only to be followed by additional thick bands.”

He continued: “The storm off the New England coast will finally drift east this weekend. The wind flow (especially upper level) will become more westerly and then southwesterly by Sunday, leading to a much cleaner atmosphere in the Northeast.”

  • Just me says:

    “Exacerbated by climate change and record seasonal heat”. When the author uses this kind of language in their article, those of us that can think for ourselves just shake our heads and read the article with some suspicion. That statement is a dog whistle for the mindless groupies of big government regulation. Not everything is related to climate change which is as natural as breathing. A lot of the fires are because of other factors.

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