Smoky skies hang over U.S. Midwest, East Coast, hurting air quality

Smoky skies hang over U.S. Midwest, East Coast, hurting air quality

Hazy, smoke-filled skies from wildfires in Canada covered the U.S. Midwest and East on Wednesday, prompting millions of Americans to be cautious and limit outdoor activities due to the dangerous and unhealthy air quality. The National Weather Service stated that a large portion of the Midwest, including western Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, was under an air quality alert that was expected to continue into Thursday or longer.

The drifting smoke from the Canadian wildfires also triggered air quality alerts in New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and parts of North Carolina. This resulted in over 100 million Americans experiencing poor air quality on Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters advised individuals in these areas, especially children, the elderly, and those with respiratory illnesses, to avoid prolonged or intense physical activity and, if possible, stay indoors or wear masks.

Canada is currently facing its worst-ever start to wildfire season, with 8 million hectares (19.8 million acres) already burned, surpassing the size of West Virginia. There were 477 active blazes on Wednesday, with approximately half of them considered out of control, spreading from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, had the worst air quality among major cities worldwide on Wednesday, according to IQAir, a pollution tracking service.

Chicago was covered in an eerie smoke-induced fog, obscuring the summer sun and filling the air with the smell of wood smoke. The city’s air quality was classified as “very unhealthy” by By midday, the worst air quality in the United States was detected in Decatur, Illinois, located about 180 miles (290 km) south of Chicago. AirNow categorized the air in this city of 70,000 as “hazardous.” The government website advised everyone to stay indoors, reduce activity levels, and stay updated with local news media for advisories.

In the southern regions of the United States, such as Florida and California, the combination of high temperatures and humidity posed a significant concern. Approximately 56 million people were enduring sweltering heat that was expected to persist throughout the weekend. The heat index, which factors in humidity and temperature, was projected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) and even as high as 115 degrees F (46 C) in some areas. The weather service recommended seeking air-conditioned spaces and staying hydrated.

Separately, Webb County in Texas reported 11 heat-related deaths in recent days. The individuals who passed away were between the ages of 60 and 80 and had underlying health conditions. The county’s medical examiner attributed the higher number of deaths to the area’s higher poverty rate and the lack of air conditioning in the majority of residents’ homes, leaving them more vulnerable to the hot weather.

In conclusion, the article highlights the widespread impact of the Canadian wildfires on air quality in the U.S. Midwest and East, urging caution and limited outdoor activities. It also emphasizes the extreme heat and humidity in the southern regions of the United States, along with the unfortunate heat-related deaths in Webb County, Texas.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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