Wildfires in Canada spread thick smoke across New York City
The United States is currently battling extreme weather events, with more than 100 million people in the Midwest and Northeast under air quality warnings while southern states including Texas are battling severe weather conditions. dangerous heat wave.
Smoke from more than 450 wildfires burning in Canada is blanketing large areas across the country and causing air quality conditions ranging from “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” for residents.
On Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul expanded New York’s air quality advisory to cover the entire state. Pennsylvania also issued “code reds” for western parts of the state while the White House was monitoring conditions in Chicago during President Joe Biden’s visit.
Meanwhile, nearly 60 million people were put on heat warning on Wednesday as “dangerous” temperatures continued to blanket the southern states and parts of Mexico.
The unrelenting triple-digit heatwave – exacerbated by the climate crisis – has entered its third week. The extreme conditions have killed 13 people in Texas and caused emergency room visits to spike statewide.
Heat-related deaths increase
The death toll from extreme heat across the southern US continues to rise with 11 confirmed deaths in Webb County, Texas and 2 in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
Nine more deaths in Texas prisons are suspected heat-related but have not been officially confirmed by authorities.
Officials are also investigating the deaths of a Dallas postal worker, and a hiker with his teenage stepchild in Big Bend National Park, in connection with the heat.
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 17:30
Detroit leads the world in worst air quality
As of 12:15 p.m. ET, Detroit has the worst urban air quality in the world with a US AQI of 184, very close to Washington, DC (182), then Dubai (156), Lahore and Sao Paulo (153), and then Chicago at 151.
Rounding out the top 10 are Shenyang (146), Jakarta (129), Montreal (114) and Minneapolis (109).
The city with the cleanest air in the world is Oslo with a score of 8.
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 17:21
Much of Midwest Corridor and I-95 Now Register ‘Unhealthy’ Air Quality
A large swath of the United States from Norfolk, Virginia, to Jersey City west of New York City, then across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and all the way to Des Moines in the west is currently registering “unhealthy” strong” or “very harmful” air quality at midday.
Air quality is currently particularly bad in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, Toledo, Madison and Cedar Rapids, reaching a “very unhealthy” area.
Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit remain firmly in the “unhealthy” zone.
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 17:05
Texas rarely admits heat is the cause of death in claustrophobic prisons without air conditioning
Since the heat wave engulfed Texas, at least nine inmates, including two men in their 30s, have died of heart attacks or unknown causes in air-conditioned prisons. It’s been 11 years since the state last classified a death as heat-related.
Here is McCullough’s description of prison conditions in the state:
More than two-thirds of Texas’ 100 prisons are not air-conditioned in most neighborhoods. Every summer, when temperatures regularly soar to triple digits, thousands of officers and tens of thousands of prisoners are confined in concrete and steel buildings with no ventilation, except for the windows that are blocked. broken by despair and fans blowing hot air. The heat has killed inmates, possibly contributing to severe staff shortages and costing taxpayers millions in civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits over the past decade. .
This year, state legislators again decided not to put money directly into installing air conditioners in dangerously hot prisons, despite a $32.7 billion budget surplus. .
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 16:30
Ed Avol, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, says both high-temperature and smoky conditions are stressors for the body and can pose potential challenges to health. human health.
But Avol added that while the haze of wildfires provides a visual cue to stay inside, there can be potential dangers in breathing in harmful pollutants like ozone even when the atmosphere is low. blue sky. He also notes that there are chemical changes in the air that can occur downwind of wildfire smoke, which could have additional and less well-understood effects on the body.
It’s still only June now. The seasonal forecast for the rest of summer in Canada “is hot and mostly dry” and that’s not good for putting out fires, Flannigan said. “It’s been a crazy year and I’m not sure where it will end up.”
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 16:00
Why is the weather pattern stuck? This seems to be happening more often — and some scientists think human-caused climate change is causing many of the situations that bring weather patterns to a halt. Moyer and Carbin said it’s too early to tell if that’s the case.
But Carbin and Canada fire scientist Mike Flannigan said there is a clear climate signal in the fires in Canada. And they say those fires won’t go out anytime soon, and nothing in the forecast looks set to change.
Nearly every province in Canada has a fire. A record 30,000 square miles (80,000 square kilometers) have burned, an area roughly the size of South Carolina, according to the Canadian government.
And fire season usually doesn’t really start until July in Canada.
“It was a crazy crazy year. Flannigan, a professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, said: “It’s unusual for the whole country to be on fire. “Usually it’s the area… not the whole shebang at once.”
Hotter-than-normal and drier air is created to create ideal fire weather, Flannigan said. Warmer weather due to climate change means the atmosphere sucks more moisture out of plants, making them more likely to catch fire, burn faster, and get hotter.
“The fires are all extremes,” he said.
And where there is fire, there is smoke.
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 15:40
Take St. Louis. The city has two days of fresh air on Tuesday and Wednesday, but on Thursday “air quality will improve with very hot and humid heat,” said Bryan Weather Center meteorologist Jackson said. The forecast is for what feels like 109 degrees (42.8 degrees Celsius) — with 101 degrees (38.3 degrees Celsius) and sweltering humidity.
On Wednesday, the low-pressure system came to a halt over New England, and due to counterclockwise winds, areas to the west – such as Chicago and the Midwest – had smoky winds from the north, while the Areas east of the low have hot winds to the south, Jackson said.
As that low-pressure system continued to move and another passed through the central Great Plains and Lake Superior, the Midwest was temporarily relieved, Jackson said. But as the low pressure moves, the smoke returns.
“We have this conveyor belt of air that goes around the Midwest and will occasionally deliver smoke directly to whatever city you live in,” said atmospheric scientist Liz Moyer of the University of Chicago. “And while the fires are going, you can see these recurring bad air days and the only relief is when the fires are out or when the weather pattern goes away.”
The stranded weather pattern is “extremely unusual,” said NOAA’s Carbin, who had to review records back to 1980 to see anything remotely similar. “What got me there was the persistence of this.”
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 15:20
Expect a hot, smoky summer in much of the US. Here’s why you should get used to it
The only break many Americans can hope for anytime soon from the dangerous plume of watery smoke from the Canadian fires are the heat and humidity, weather forecasters say. drenching shirts from a southern heatwave has been shown to be deadly.
And then the smoke will likely return to the Midwest and East.
That’s because neither the 235 out-of-control wildfires in Canada nor the deadlocked weather pattern responsible for this mess of meteorological illnesses shows no sign of abating over the next week or so. according to meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center. .
First, a deadlocked weather pattern that caused unusually hot and dry conditions left Canada burning at an off-the-chart record. It then created a setup where there was relief only when the low-pressure systems came through, meaning areas on one side received smoky air from the north and the other side received air. suffocating from the south.
Smoke or heat. “Choose your poison,” said Greg Carbin, the prediction center’s executive director of forecasting. “The conditions will not be very favorable.”
“As long as those fires continue to burn there, that’s going to be a problem for us,” Carbin said. “As long as there’s something to burn, we’re going to have to deal with the smoke.”
Oliver O’ConnellJune 29, 2023 15:00
This is the Air Quality Index (AQI).
The Air Quality Index (AQI) was established by the Environmental Protection Agency as a way of measuring the density of pollutants in the air to determine how healthy or unhealthy air quality is for humans. People.
The AQI scale runs from 0 to 500 and uses colors to correspond to the air quality range.
Air quality warnings are usually issued if the number exceeds 100 – considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Ariana BaioJune 29, 2023 14:00
How does wildfire smoke affect your health?
Air quality plummeted again this week across large swaths of the United States and Canada as more than 450 wildfires flared north of the border.
Air quality ranges from “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” in the Midwest with Chicago ranking first for worst air quality in the world on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, winds had pushed smoke toward the east coast with New York City expected to be hardest hit on Thursday.
Ariana BaioJune 29, 2023 13:00