It’s like something out of a dystopian movie.
An orange blanket has fallen over New York City after “dangerously high levels of wildfire smoke” descended from Canada into the metro area, transforming Manhattan’s vibrant skyline into a dark and gritty scene.
Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and other popular attractions are now cloaked under the smokey veil as officials cautioned residents to wear masks outside and prioritize remaining indoors with their windows shut.
Despite the order, thousands of people carried on like it was just another day in the Big Apple, where the Air Quality Index reached 170 on Wednesday following an unprecedented 218 yesterday.
The city’s air quality is currently ranked among the world’s worst, on par with Toronto, Canada, which was also hit by the drifting wildfire smoke.
Many have gone on to social media to compare the city to a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie, with some likening it to the settings in the film “Blade Runner 2049.”
“Visibility is getting worse and the entire city smells like a campfire,” ABC’s New York sports anchor Ryan Field tweeted.
“This is something that has never impacted [the city] on this scale before,” Mayor Adams said at a Wednesday morning press conference.
“We had dangerously high levels of wildfire smoke from thousands of miles away … from the gloom over Yankee Stadium to the smoky haze obscuring the skyline…we could see it, we could smell it and we felt it.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan added that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems are at especially high risk.
Earlier on Wednesday, New York City public schools suspended outdoor activities for the day.
Schools will remain in touch with parents regarding potential closures on Thursday, Schools Chancellor David Banks said.
Smoke and haze from fires as far as British Columbia and Nova Scotia have moved downstream into the city since late May, but the recent smog from Quebec has been far more severe than in previous weeks.
Fires in Canada have charred a combined area that is larger than Maryland and displaced tens of thousands of people, officials said.
The Canadian capital of Ottawa, which neighbors Quebec, had an air quality in category 10+ on Tuesday, the worst level on Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index, indicating “very high risk.”