(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — A Code Red Air Quality Alert has been issued for Erie and Crawford counties.
The National Weather Service reports the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a Code Red Air Quality Action Day for fine particulates until midnight Wednesday for Erie and Crawford counties.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the entire state of Pennsylvania was under a Code Red Air Quality Alert. Multiple other states in the Great Lakes, New York State and Northeast regions are also being affected by the smoke. Nexstar station WSYR-TV reported New York City ranked among the worst air quality in the world Tuesday, according to IQAir.
Wednesday evening, Nexstar station WPHL reported Philadelphia was considered to have the worst air quality out of any major metropolitan area in the United States, according to air.gov. As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, the air quality in Philadelphia was at 447, which is considered hazardous.
The main source of this week’s smoke is from newer wildfires in the province of Quebec, just north of New York.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Erie as of 2 p.m. Wednesday had dropped to 68 as the smoke had thinned, but was expected to go up as the thicker smoke over Ontario moves in later Wednesday afternoon and evening.
The AQI is expected to go back between 100-150 by Wednesday evening, which is again in the unhealthy range for people with lung and/or cardiac conditions.
On Tuesday in Erie, the AQI fluctuated around 100 the entire day.
At this time, the DEP is urging all Pennsylvania residents to limit time outdoors, especially elderly, small children and those with respiratory problems.
The wildfire smoke is expected to be an issue for the Northeast through Friday as the winds in the atmosphere will still be coming from Quebec, the source of the smoke. However, the thickness of the smoke will vary at times due to various conditions.
If possible, circulate the air in your house with air conditioning or the furnace fan. Use caution when exercising or working outside. Watch for excessive coughing or shortness of breath and take a break if you experience those conditions.
At the same time, Erie and nearly the entire state of Pennsylvania are listed in the moderate range for the threat of wildfires. In NWPA, lack of rainfall and dry brush is causing conditions favorable for wildfires. Use extreme caution when burning outside for any reason.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the City of Erie has a burn ban in effect until further notice due to unusually dry weather conditions.
View an interactive map of the Air Quality Index in your area at Airnow.gov.