Smoke from numerous severe wildfires in Canada has blanketed parts of the US east coast, making air quality dangerous.
The plumes of hundreds of fires in eastern Canada moved in a southerly direction and led to a dense, foggy veil and an orange color in the sky in the US metropolis of New York, among other places. “Mars or Manhattan?” Wrote a user on Twitter and published a photo of the skyline including the Empire State bulding.
The governor of the state of New York, Kathy Hochul, spoke of an “emergency crisis”, as the “New York Times” reported. The condition could also persist for several days. “People have to prepare for a long period of time.”
People in New York have been urged to stay indoors and close the windows as much as possible. All outdoor activities in schools and kindergartens have been canceled, and many other open-air events have also been cancelled.
In the US capital Washington, around 370 kilometers further south, the air was cloudy on Wednesday and it smelled burnt. Both cities issued a warning about poor air quality.
New Yorkers should stay indoors
In the meantime, the highest level of air pollution was in New York: “Dangerous” – according to the official website Airnow.gov, all residents of the 8-million metropolis should stay in the buildings and reduce physical activities. “Today is not the day to train for a marathon,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
In the street canyons, not only did visibility decrease significantly, the smoke could also be felt in the eyes and throat. Many people put on protective masks again, which were widespread because of the corona pandemic.
So did the lawyer Hugh Hill, who walked his dog in New York’s Central Park. He said his eyes and throat were “stinging” from the foul air, which smelled like a wood fire.
“When we walked home from school yesterday, we could smell the smoke,” said math professor Evangelia Antonakos, who walked through Central Park with her five-year-old son. “At home we closed our windows and used air filters.”
The FAA said traffic to and from airports in the New York City area and in Philadelphia had been restricted due to poor visibility. There were severe delays.
US government blames climate change
Manhattan Mayor Mark Levine wrote: “Air quality is deteriorating rapidly.” The measured value is “now more than double the highest level of health hazards on the US government scale.”
In Canada’s metropolises of Ottawa and Toronto and in the US states of Minnesota and Massachusetts, authorities also warned residents of bad air. Numerous fires have been raging in Canada’s west and now also in the north-east of the country for weeks. In the south-eastern province of Nova Scotia, the situation had recently eased somewhat.
The White House said President Joe Biden had also been briefed on the situation. “It’s another alarming example of how the climate crisis is affecting our lives and communities,” said spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre. (dpa / AFP)