Smoke from the deadly West Coast wildfires has grown so massive it can be seen – and breathed – as far away as New York City, where the air quality was measured as the worst in over 14 years.
Weather experts said the fine particulate matter was seven times the acceptable health limit set by the World Health Organization.
Air quality in New York was measured as the worst worldwide on Tuesday – on par with Kolkata, India – owing to the raging wildfires on the West Coast, with state officials advising those with respiratory issues like asthma to avoid strenuous activity outdoors.
New York issued an air quality alert after smoke from fires in the U.S. West traveled 3,000 miles.Scientists say smoke usually thins out over long journeys, but in recent years it is staying thick because of so many large fires (over 80).”There’s just so much smoke.” pic.twitter.com/qMZbEtS1Gt
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 21, 2021
Despite the fires burning some 2,500 miles away, New Yorkers couldn’t help but see the effects, including an eerie orange tinge to the moon and a pervasive haze that left some Manhattan residents unable to even see across the Hudson River to New Jersey.
Oregon’s Bootleg Fire continues to grow, now burning an area half the size of Rhode Island.The fire is so big it’s creating its own weather.Smoke from the 80+ wildfires in the U.S. West are creating smoggy conditions and prompting health concerns as far away as New York City. pic.twitter.com/TdxH1075pt
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 20, 2021
With more than 80 major wildfires burning in 13 states, most in the West, the city’s famous skyline has been enveloped in haze for the past two days, with similar effects visible from as far away as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Toronto.
The air quality index hit 157 in the city – far above the safe limit of 100 and the worst recorded anywhere on Wednesday – reportedly extending into the 160s that morning.
Conditions are bad enough to trigger breathing difficulties, from runny eyes and scratchy throat to irritation caused by inhaling soot particles called PM2.5, made up of the remnants of burnt trees and brush carried long distances on the wind. The particles can cause a wide range of health problems if inhaled.
It’s the second year in a row that these particles have made it all the way to New York, and appears to herald a disturbing trend – last year’s largest blazes began in Southern California and soon turned the sky in the northern part of that state a hellish orange as well.
At least one of the wildfires is believed to have been caused in part by local utility PG&E, which has had a hand in causing fires for the last four years, while the largest fire so far, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, is so massive it is creating its own weather patterns.
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