People in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions will again face smoke from Canada’s wildfires on Friday, capping a chaotic workweek that brought hazy conditions and poor air quality to millions of people as far south as North Carolina. However, based on a New York Times analysis of the forecast models, there will be far less dense concentrations of wildfire smoke for most people on Friday.
Pockets of dense smoke could significantly reduce air quality and lead to low visibility, the National Weather Service said early Friday, singling out areas around southern Ontario and across parts of Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia could be the two cities that see the worst of the smoke Friday, but even then it should be better than it has been.
A wider region across the eastern United States of light to moderate haze may continue to lead to opaque skies and orange sunsets and sunrises, which have dotted social media profiles this week.
Air quality alerts were in effect for parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. While most alerts were scheduled to expire at midnight Friday night, a smaller number will end earlier in the day, by early afternoon.
Although most of these areas could still see worse air quality than normal, nothing is expected to be anywhere close to the historic levels on Wednesday and Thursday in New York.
There, the air is “much improved,” said forecasters with the Weather Service. However, the air quality levels were still predicted to be greater than 100 on the Air Quality Index. Officials once again recommended limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity. Farther west, in Michigan, weather forecasters said an air quality alert would be in effect until noon, and said pollutants in certain areas were expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups and may occasionally rise to an unhealthy level.
The breath of fresh air that everyone has been hoping for should come Saturday as the stubborn storm system drawing in the smoke from the north and into the Northeast should begin to move slowly out of the region.