On Wednesday, as smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south, covering cities in a thick, yellow smoke, schools along the US East Coast cancelled outdoor activities, airline traffic halted, and millions of Americans were advised to stay inside.
Almost the entire Atlantic seaboard received air quality alerts from the American National Weather Service. The high concentrations of tiny particulates in the air could be a cause for respiratory difficulties, according to health officials from Vermont to South Carolina and as far west as Ohio and Kansas.
Commenting on the matter, President Joe Biden tweeted, “It’s critical that Americans experiencing dangerous air pollution, especially those with health conditions, listen to local authorities to protect themselves and their families.”
The greatest wildfire smoke outbreak to cover the Northeastern United States in more than 20 years, according to US private forecasting firm AccuWeather, was characterised by thick fog and ashes that extended from high elevations to ground level.
Some locals reported feeling uncomfortable as they watched New York’s iconic skyline, which is often visible for miles, appear to disappear in a surreal mist of smoke.
People working outside, like Chris Ricciardi, proprietor of Envy Landscaping in Roxbury, New Jersey, found the smokey air particularly difficult to breathe. He said that his team was reducing work hours and donning masks for excessive pollen.
Governor Kathy Hochul of New York described the situation as an “emergency crisis,” noting that the air pollution index in some areas of her state was eight times higher than average.
The Federal Aviation Administration was obliged to halt air traffic into the New York City region and Philadelphia from elsewhere on the East Coast and upper Midwest, with aircraft delays averaging roughly a half hour. This was due to the haze’s reduced visibility.
Sports, field trips, and recesses were cancelled at schools all throughout the East Coast.
Even Major League Baseball was affected because Wednesday’s home games for the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were both postponed. Both a WNBA women’s basketball contest in Brooklyn and a National Women’s Soccer League match in Harrison, New Jersey, were postponed.
According to Airnow, where 100 is considered “unhealthy” and 300 is considered “hazardous,” the air quality index (AQI), which monitors key pollutants such as particulate matter created by fires, was significantly higher than 400 in several regions.