PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A dangerous smoky haze has filled the Philadelphia region due to wildfires burning in Canada.
A code red air quality alert remains in effect for the entire Delaware Valley Wednesday.
Visible satellite shows some of the thickest smoke we have seen moving through our region. It has reached areas from Philadelphia on north and continues to press southward.
While many areas have been in the red unhealthy zone, some places in this plume are showing up in the purple very unhealthy zone now.
Why are we smelling the smoke?
The reason we are seeing such concentrated smoke has everything to do with the weather.
We are stuck in between low pressure out east of Maine with high pressure out west of us. That means wildfire smoke is being directly funneled through the northeast and into our region
How long will it last?
According to AccuWeather, the smoky conditions may improve over the next several days.
Modeling shows this plume continuing to push southward with gradual improvement into Thursday.
Once the blocking breaks down and our winds shift out of the south, we will cut off that funneling of smoke into our area. That is expected to happen over the weekend.
A Code Red Air Quality Alert will be in effect for Delaware Thursday, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey will be under a Code Orange. These could change as the smoke moves through the region, so stay with AccuWeather and Action News for the latest developments.
As we get into Saturday, that block begins to ease some with low pressure exiting eastward. When this happens we should begin to dilute the flow of particles and slowly improve air quality.
Our next chance of a few showers comes on Friday afternoon and evening, but that doesn’t look very impressive.
Our best chance looks to be next Monday when a more impressive system could move in.
6abc Air Quality Tracker
How to protect yourself?
Experts say it is a good time to put off that yard work and outdoor exercise. If you go out, you could also consider wearing an N95 or KN95 mask to reduce your exposure to pollutants.
They also recommend staying inside; keeping your windows and fireplaces shut; and run the air conditioning on a recirculation setting.
“These are very very fine particulates that can be breathed very deep into the lungs, and they can do damage to the lung,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “It can sometimes get into your bloodstream.”
Health officials also warn residents to pay attention to their bodies. Anyone who may be having trouble breathing, feeling nauseous, or dizzy, should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
“You can start feeling chest tightness. You may start coughing and may feel your eyes burning,” Bettigole said.