Washington- Smoke haze from a series of fires in Canada continues to spread across the Northeast United States and air quality in cities like Washington and New York remains unhealthy, a situation that will last for several days.
Millions of citizens (approximately 75 million live in the area) remain on alert for the risk of inhaling potentially harmful air from the hundreds of forest fires that are taking place in Canada, whose cloud of smoke has been visibly detected by satellites of the American NASA.
Through a statement, NASA explained that although smoke from Canadian forest fires often passes into the United States several times in the summer, it usually goes unnoticed because it is relatively high in the atmosphere and because winds tend to move the smoke east and To the sea.RELATED
This has not been the case today, and as a result of a weather phenomenon known as a “coastal low,” smoke drifted into the southern and eastern US and degraded surface-level air quality that Millions of people breathe.
“Surface smoke contamination from New York to the DC region is the most significant since July 2002, when a similar event occurred,” said NASA scientist Ryan Stauffer.
After the unusual images published on Wednesday of iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building surrounded by a cloud of orange smoke, the US Capitol in Washington woke up this Thursday mired in haze.
In a press conference, the mayor of the capital, Muriel Bowser, confirmed that the city raised today to the purple alert level, the highest.
For this reason, he recommended that the population not remain outside and, if they need to, wear a mask.
According to the director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), Christopher Rodriguez, it will not be until the last hour of Friday when the air quality begins to “improve significantly”, thanks to the fact that the winds will change.
Rodríguez recalled that the public schools of the capital have canceled all outdoor activities and also the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Due to poor air quality, the White House today canceled an event to celebrate gay pride that was scheduled to take place on the south lawn of the presidential mansion and in which singer Betty Who was to participate.
Air quality in New York began to improve slightly Thursday morning, though still at a “very unhealthy” level 5 out of 6.
The Health Commissioner asked citizens not to go out unless it is “absolutely necessary” and recommended the use of masks, such as the N95, for those who have to carry out activities abroad.
Philadelphia and Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania, and other large cities such as Baltimore, Newark, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati or Indianapolis are also the most affected today.
Visibility problems caused by the smoke covering the skies in the region led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to temporarily halt flights to Philadelphia and LaGuardia and delay all those to Newark.
Although there were delays in the morning, for now there were hardly any cancellations at these airports, according to data from the FlightAware air traffic monitoring website.
In Canada, although air quality improved early Thursday, the Weather Service forecast that the indicator will drop back to “high risk” levels in cities like Toronto throughout the day.
In the Greater Toronto Area, home to more than six million people, one seventh of Canada’s population, authorities are recommending that seniors, children and people with health problems reduce outdoor activities that a physical effort.
Meanwhile, of the around 400 forest fires that are still active in the country, almost half are out of control. Only in the province of Quebec there are 150 forest fires.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday offered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau his “unconditional support” to respond to the wave of forest fires.
“President Biden spoke today with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada to offer him unwavering support in responding to the historic and devastating fires burning across Canada,” the White House said in a statement.
The latest data from the Canadian authorities indicate that since January the flames have consumed 3.8 million hectares of forest, when the average since 1990 is that forest fires burn a total of 2.5 million hectares per year.