If you’ve noticed a yellowish haze intensifying outside, there is quite literally something in the Montclair + North Jersey air: the rundown of smoke from the hundreds of wildfires currently burning in Canada. The carryover from the fires has reduced the air quality in North Jersey drastically, posing health threats to those in “sensitive groups.” The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued an Air Quality Alert for the North Jersey region, and the Montclair Department of Health urges locals to take precautions. Read on for what we know about the current air quality conditions in New Jersey, as well as what precautions to take to stay safe.
(Photo Credit: @rfitz1985)
Wildfires in Canada
Wildfire season in Canada usually lasts from April-September, but the Washington Post reported yesterday that “Canada’s government expects ‘higher-than-normal fire activity'” due to “a combination of ongoing drought conditions and hot temperature forecasts.” So how does this affect Montclair? Per the Weather Channel, after a rash of wildfires broke out in the Canadian province of Quebec, the fires were fanned by strong winds around low pressure near the New England coast, which is why the smoke is traveling to the Northeast region of the U.S. You can track smoke in the area using this map here.
What’s Happening in Montclair
The air quality index, which measures how safe air is to breathe, must be at 100 to be considered healthy — per AirNow, the current index in Montclair is 200, which is why the Air Quality Alert from the NJDEP remains in place. The polluted air is dangerous for members of “sensitive groups,” or “those with heart or lung conditions, the elderly and children,” and who are advised to reduce their time outdoors. Those in sensitive situations are advised to:
- Stay indoors if possible.
- Keep doors and windows shut.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
- Keep outdoor activities short, if necessary.
- Move physical activities indoors or reschedule them.
- Wear a mask if outdoors.
Those without pre-existing conditions should take precautions, too. Per the Weather Chanel, the smoke can trigger health problems like “coughing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and other immediate effects.” The Guide for Particle Pollution from the NJDEP advises everyone to reduce long or intense activities and take more breaks during outdoor activities. See the full guide here.
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Per Patch, Councilman Peter Yacobellis stated “The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert this afternoon for New York City and parts of the Tri-State, including our area, due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires drifting across the region,” and recommended that locals check AirNow for updates on air quality.
As of now, experts expect these patterns to continue for “the next day or so,” but over the weekend forecast predicts a new weather pattern that will help “cage the upper-level wind direction” and clear out remaining smoke in the Northeast region, according to the Weather Channel.
This is an ongoing situation, so as always, we’ll keep you up to date with details as they unfold. Follow @themontclairgirl on social media for more updates.