New York’s air quality reached the worst levels in roughly 40 years Wednesday — and the trouble caused by the waves of smoke coming down from Canadian wildfires is not set to end anytime soon.
The smoke and haze is expected to get slightly better in the coming days, before clearing Sunday. Here is the forecast for the rest of the week:
New York City’s air quality index rose to an astonishingly high 353 out of 500 around 3 p.m. Wednesday, making it the most polluted major city on Earth as smoke from wildfires hundreds of miles away was pulled in by a low-pressure system.
New Yorkers were advised to stay indoors if possible, and wear N95 masks and avoid exercise if outside Wednesday, but forecasters said there was some relief in sight.
“As we get later into tonight, it’s going to start to calm down a little bit, but we still could have a little bit of smoke hanging around tomorrow and Friday, but nowhere near what we have today,” said Fox Forecast Center meteorologist Brian Mastro.
“We are in the hazardous level on the air quality index, which is the highest level, and we will not reach that level again tomorrow,” Mastro said.
Temperatures were expected to be higher than Wednesday’s high of 66 degrees on Thursday as smoke begins to dissipate and allow more sun to shine through.
“A little bit less smoke, so we should be able to get a little more sunshine in the afternoon,” Mastro said.
A high temperature was predicted in the low to mid-70s, Mastro said, and some late rain could continue to ease the situation.
“There’s a chance of a couple of showers overnight tomorrow night, but it’s not until Friday night that we get a more substantial chance of rain.”
Mastro said it was not possible to accurately predict the air quality index, but expected it to be in the 100 to 200 range. The city’s typical air quality rating is less than 50, according to IQair.com.
“Tomorrow we’ll probably be back down towards the unhealthy level, which is two levels down, or maybe even unhealthy for sensitive groups, which is three levels down,” Mastro said.
The situation was set to further ease on Friday, when Mastro estimated that temperatures would reach 70 degrees and the air quality index would be somewhere between 50 and 150.
A “substantial” chance of precipitation Friday night would help matters further.
“Any precipitation will help clean out the air,” he said.
“When we get back into the weekend, we’ll expect to be around normal and pretty sunny,” Mastro said.
“Things will be much better.”
Skies would be clear with no precipitation expected and temperatures could reach the high 70s, according to the forecaster.
The air quality index was expected to not reach much further than 100, the meteorologist predicted.
On Sunday, clear skies would continue with temperatures expected to approach the 80s.
By this point, the air quality index would be basically back to normal, with no traces of the hazy horror that preceded it, Mastro anticipated.