The slick of smoke from the fires in Canada that has left dystopian images in New York City since Tuesday has been moving south on the east coast of the United States on Thursday. After the city of skyscrapers, large areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the federal capital, Washington have dawned this Thursday with a "very unhealthy" or "dangerous" air quality, according to the classification of the official website AirNow, which establishes it based on the level of particles in suspension.
Millions of people are under different levels of alert. NASA has released satellite images showing smoke from Canada's wildfires is reaching as far south as Alabama. "This smoke is causing poor air quality throughout the eastern third of the United States," he said. Air quality problems can extend at least into the weekend, experts say.
Are you noticing hazy skies in your area today? @NASA Worldview shows wildfire smoke from Canada being transported as far south as Alabama today. This smoke is causing poor air quality across the eastern third of the U.S. today. #alwx #tnwx #gawx #kywx #mswx #arwx pic.twitter.com/PnKr1V9lCG
— NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) June 7, 2023
The obelisk of the Washington monument that dominates the sky of the capital has dawned on Thursday morning as covered by fog, but it is not clouds but smoke. The sky is overcast and grayish instead of blue in Washington. The smell of burning wood and the stinging in the eyes have reached the capital. People have returned to wearing masks on the street and the authorities have declared the Code Red for air quality, something that did not happen in more than a decade except on the nights of the 4th of July, due to the smoke of the fireworks with which the national holiday is celebrated.
In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered schools to cancel outdoor recess, sports and field trips. In Philadelphia, authorities have set up an emergency shelter so people living outdoors can take shelter from the smoke.
Civil protection authorities warn that with these air conditions everyone can experience health effects and should limit outdoor activity and members of sensitive groups, such as people with respiratory and heart disease, emphysema, asthma or chronic bronchitis, may suffer more serious effects.
The smoke spike seems to have left New York behind. The state's governor, Kathy Hochul, announced on Wednesday the distribution of one million high-quality masks (N95) on Thursday. Still, he has asked citizens to postpone or cancel outdoor activities whenever possible. Authorities have issued similar recommendations in much of the East Coast states.
This Wednesday, some baseball games that were to be held in the most affected areas, such as New York or Philadelphia, have been postponed, including the one that was to face the New York Yankees with the Chicago White Sox. "Tonight's game between the Yankees and White Sox (Wednesday, June 7) has been postponed due to poor air quality from smoke from Canada's wildfires and will recover tomorrow, Thursday, June 8," the club tweeted.
Aviation authorities are limiting flights in some areas. "Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will continue to affect air travel today," the Federal Aviation Administration said. We will likely need to take steps to manage traffic flow safely in New York City, [Washington] DC, Philadelphia and Charlotte."
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to combat the focus of the problem. To date, the United States has deployed more than 600 U.S. firefighters and support personnel, as well as other means of suppression, to respond to the fires. Biden offered Trudeau additional support to combat the devastating wildfires raging across Canada.
As of Thursday, there were still 437 active wildfires in Canada, 248 of which were out of control, according to authorities. Most of the fires, 154 on Thursday morning, are in the eastern province of Quebec, where most of the smoke streams have reached the United States.
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