How many more air quality alert days will we get?
Wildfire smoke from hundreds of fires burning in Quebec continued to cause alarm and anxiety for New Yorkers this week. Is this our new normal?
On Thursday, smoky and foggy conditions will be most noticeable in the western and southern areas of New York State. There is some good news for Eastern New York with the air quality alert in effect today; The smoke-filled sky will gradually decrease from north to south due to the low moving from New England.
Here’s what the air quality report for our region shows today:
A trough has retreated over the state, causing clouds to appear and rain to fall from time to time. Any rain showers that seep in are beneficial in several ways, as they not only moisturize the air and ground, but also help clean the air of smoke particles. Rain will be scattered over the next two days.
A northerly breeze and another plume of smoke moving from the north are expected to affect western and southern New York today and then continue to head south through Pennsylvania into the mid-Atlantic states, while lower smoke conditions develop in eastern New York and in the Adirondacks into New Britain.
Air quality index
According to the state DEC, air quality health advisories are in effect for the Long Island, New York City metro, lower Hudson Valley, upper Hudson Valley, eastern Lake Ontario, central and western regions.
Unlike the smoke plumes we saw a few weeks ago, the current features of the downwind weather pattern are pulling smoke to the surface. Wildfire smoke that could blast overhead without much fanfare has now dropped from 2,000 feet in the sky to ground level.
Patience is a virtue
There is some good news about a gradual shift in the directional winds of the north-to-west jet stream by Friday and especially over the weekend. This subtle shift in wind direction with the next trough bringing additional showers to the Northeastern US will benefit us, as significantly less smoky air returns.
Good news: A new trough descends over New York from the Great Lakes on Monday and Tuesday. This system brings showers and a shift in winds that could keep the smoke away for a short period. A few rain chances are also rolling across Canada, but there is concern that widespread rainfall may not be enough to make a significant impact in putting out hundreds of wildfires.
We’ll certainly be monitoring the latest smoke forecasts and air quality index in the coming weeks as wildfires continue to burn not far from us.
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(tags for translation) Hudson Valley