New Yorkers were back in masks on Tuesday as thick smoke originating from Canadian wildfires to the north descended on the city.
Pictures showed an orange glow hanging above New York City as the sun set, concealing iconic structures such as the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.
Air quality levels throughout the city were ‘very unhealthy’, according to the US government online platform AirNow, which also warned against outdoor activities.
Across from Manhattan in the Bronx, Yankees fans watching the evening’s baseball described being able to smell the smoke filling the stadium.
Meanwhile, a game involving their Minor League affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, was postponed ‘due to poor air quality,’ the team announced.
In parts of Brooklyn and Queens the Air Quality Index was as high as 226 at around 11pm. AQI numbers vary between 0 and 500. Anything higher than 200 is considered rare and potentially dangerous.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned that an advisory was in effect and shared a map indicating where in the state the smoke was particularly dangerous.
The Rural Health Network of South Central New York shared on Twitter a post informing residents that cloth masks would not shield them from wildfire smoke and that a ‘well-fitted’ N95 was in order.
On Wednesday the air quality is expected to worsen.
Meteorologist John Homenuk of New York Metro Weather told New York Daily News the smoke could last for days and that on Wednesday afternoon the risk was likely to be even higher.
‘Right now, the models are suggesting another burst of near surface smoke during the afternoon hours on Wednesday, and then some elevated smoke for the rest of the week and even into parts of the weekend,’ he said.
‘It’s no secret that New York is facing extraordinary air quality conditions right now,’ Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said during a press conference on Tuesday, Newsbreak reported.
‘Most New Yorkers, all New Yorkers, have seen the conditions out in the field today – the sky is hazy, visibility is terrible and you can smell the smoke in the air.’
Meteorologist John Homenuk told the Gothamist how to take some measures to safeguard yourself.
‘Just take some precautionary steps to make sure that you’re not overexerting yourself putting yourself in a situation where you can be impacted negatively by it, knowing that the air quality is definitely degraded compared to usual,’ he said.
The unhealthy air seeping through the city was caused by smoke that originated from a fire last week in Nova Scotia that has affected the quality levels from New York City to Washington DC.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 160 forest fires were still burning in Quebec, including at least 114 that were deemed out of control.
In Ottawa, Canada’s capital, that level is nearly 250, Bloomberg reported. Canadian officials to classify this as one of the country’s worst fire seasons ever.