Canadian wildfire smoke moves into Northeast U.S.

New York City has some of the worst air quality in the country this week because of smoke that’s drifted south from wildfires in Canada. The city had an orange glow Tuesday morning, with the sun obscured by a smoky haze, reported by CNBC. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory Tuesday for several counties and surrounding suburbs. Ratings for air quality reached into the 150s on Tuesday, according to AirNow. Those levels are considered unhealthy for all people and significantly above exposure recommendations from the World Health Organization.

Fire and Smoke map,
Fire and Smoke map,

The sky over the city had an orange glow on Tuesday morning and the sun was largely obscured. Officials warned residents to limit time outdoors and emphasized that people with respiratory illnesses or heart disease are especially vulnerable to the dangerous air quality conditions. The New York Times reported that smoke brought hazy skies to parts of New York State and also Vermont on Tuesday, and air quality alerts were also issued across large swaths of Minnesota. Hundreds of wildfires burned across Canada, exacerbating an active wildfire season that is expected to worsen, and sending smoke into much of the U.S.

Haze blanketed much of Ottawa and Toronto, while all of New York City was under an air quality alert; by the afternoon, the Manhattan skyline was obscured.

The Oregonian reported that smoke is also causing unhealthy air quality across Oregon, but just two sentences of the report by Gosia Wozniacka were available to non-subscribers. The Seattle Times, however, reported that Canada’s intense wildfires now spread from the western provinces to Quebec, with hundreds of active fires. On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a poor air quality alert for New England, a day after parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota received similar advisories. Last week, U.S. officials as far south as Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania reported being affected by the wildfires.

The EPA said the smoke will linger for a few days in New England.

“It’s not unusual for us to get fire smoke in our area. It’s very typical in terms of northwest Canada,” said Darren Austin, a meteorologist and senior air quality specialist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. But the smoke usually has remained aloft and doesn’t affect people’s health, he said.

The Quebec-area fires are both large and relatively close, about 500 to 600 miles (roughly 800 to 970 kilometers) away from Rhode Island. And they followed wildfires in Nova Scotia, which caused a brief air quality alert on May 30, Austin said.

In Connecticut, smoke from Canadian wildfires lingered overnight on Monday and covered the entire state by Tuesday morning. WTNH-TV News reported that the smoke boosted fine particulate levels starting Monday evening, pushing them into the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Smoke map, Northeast U.S., by
Smoke map, Northeast U.S., by

The Northeast smoke is the result of more than 150 fires in Canada; it has drifted toward Connecticut and stalled in the Northeast U.S. by an upper-level, low-pressure system, according to Connecticut’s DEEP.

Those with asthma or lung disease, and/or the elderly are at risk if they spend a long time outside. Last week, the American Lung Association issued an air quality alert for increased fine particulate matter levels. Check the Fire and Smoke Map at for detailed information about your area, and is another excellent source for air quality warnings.