How long will the poor air quality last in New York City, Northeast?

How long will the poor air quality last in New York City, Northeast?

The New York City skyline looked like another world this week as a red sun appeared in a dark orange sky. This was a scene transformed by the thick smoke created by wildfires burning in the Canadian province of Quebec, and it could get worse before it gets better.

Other plumes of smoke from the Quebec wildfires will billow over parts of the northeastern and midwestern United States for most of the week, AccuWeather chief meteorologist Brett Anderson, who specializes in weather forecasts for Canada, said.

New York City and parts of New England could see some improvement in air quality Thursday and Friday, as a shift in winds will drive smoke toward southern Ontario, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. However, while air quality will improve near the Atlantic coast on Thursday, it will likely deteriorate in and around Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit.

The weekend could lead to another dip in air quality across the mid-Atlantic and New England.

"By Saturday, the winds may be sending some smoke east again," Anderson explained, meaning air quality could deteriorate as the weekend begins.

Anyone who spends much time outdoors can experience difficulty breathing and throat irritation from smoky air.

The sun rises over a hazy New York City skyline, as seen in Jersey City, N.J., on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Intense Canadian wildfires blanket the northeastern United States in a miserable haze, turning the air yellowish—gray—warning vulnerable residents to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

It may not be until next week when the smoke clears, and the air quality improves.

"A significant shift in the weather pattern is expected by early next week, when a storm may form over the Midwest," Anderson said. "[This] will completely divert the winds and send the smoke back north in Canada."

The storm could also provide much-needed rain to the dry Midwest, Northeast, and regions of Ontario.

Any precipitation is welcome in these areas as a prolonged spell of unusually dry conditions has caused rapid drought, causing the grass to turn brown and river levels to drop.

This week's smoky skies may be a preview of what's to come throughout summer in the Northeast.

"The fires will likely continue to burn over Quebec in the summer, as they will in remote and heavily forested areas," Anderson explained.

"Most firefighting efforts in Canada focus on saving homes and other property farther away from larger fires," he added.

In addition, AccuWeather's team of long-range forecasters is forecasting an active wildfire season across the western United States, especially in the Northwest, where wildfire activity peaks in August and September.

Smoke from fires in this region of the country could also contribute to hazy skies over the central and eastern United States, similar to recent bouts of smoke-related to fires in Canada.

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