Nov 21, 2023

Philly wildfire updates: Live coverage, air quality alerts

LIVE • Updated 7 hours ago

Detroit Tigers' players walk through the outfield at Citizens Bank Park after poor air quality postponed their baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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Smoke drifting into Philadelphia from Canadian wildfires prompted code red air alerts on June 7, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Wildfire smoke from Western Quebec that thickened the skies around Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware Wednesday afternoon could become more common due to climate change, according to climate scientists. The unprecedented air pollution caused schools to cancel outdoor recess and sports, forced the Phillies to postpone their game with the Detroit Tigers, and prompted emergency messages about decreased visibility on the roads.

Anthony Broccoli, professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University, said weather patterns pushed the smoke south and near to the ground.

"It's certainly not unprecedented for wildfire smoke to move across the Northeastern United States," said Broccoli. "What's unusual in this case is the smoke is coming from a source that's closer by and it's producing poor air quality at the surface."

Broccoli said the smoke won't clear until the wind shifts, which he expects to happen Thursday evening or Friday.

Residents are advised not to exercise outdoors and to keep pets indoors if possible.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a code red for the entire state but said air quality in some regions could worsen into the rarely used code purple, or even code maroon.

"These aren't new colors," said Lauren Casey, a meteorologist with Climate Central. "They’re just so incredibly rare, especially in our area, that you don't even know they exist. Purple means very unhealthy. So the health impacts could pertain to anyone, not just people with chronic illnesses."

Casey said maroon is even worse, and is considered hazardous — meaning people should spend as little time outside as possible.

Climate change is contributing to increased wildfires across the western U.S. and Canada, Casey said.

"And then we’re seeing the residual effects because wildfire smoke can travel on the jet stream even from western Canada, thousands of miles away from us into the Delaware Valley, into the Philadelphia region, and affect our air quality."

Climate change is increasing fire weather conditions, including in New Jersey.

"So we’re seeing these fire weather days happening more often, not only in the west, but in the east as well. So we get the hot conditions, the very low humidity, the dry ground and gusty winds," Casey said.

Casey said depending on the winds, the air quality can vary from place to place within our region.

The winds are expected to shift, granting relief from the smoke by the weekend.

Mike Kingsley, code blue shelter manager for the Norristown Hospitality Center, is hanging informational flyers as the center closes. (Emily Rizzo/WHYY)

Montgomery County has opened an emergency shelter in Norristown for people experiencing homelessness due to the unsafe air quality.

Most residents are able to avoid the acrid smell of smoke and get out of the thickening air in Montgomery County. But for people experiencing homelessness who want to stay inside and safe from the conditions across the county, options are generally scarce.

Roughly 160 people sleep outside in Norristown, according to Access Services, and about 450 are experiencing homelessness in the entire county.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declared a Code Red for the commonwealth, and state officials urge residents to limit outdoor activities.

But Montgomery County no longer has a permanent overnight shelter for single adults — so after daytime havens like libraries, community centers, and malls close, some people experiencing homelessness will be left outside.

The county announced at 7:18 p.m. Wednesday evening it would open one emergency shelter at St. John's Episcopal Church at 23 E. Airy Street in Norristown. County spokesperson Kirk Dorn said the shelter has more than 20 beds.

"We will continue to monitor air quality conditions and determine how long we will keep the emergency action in place," officials said.

Your Way Home, which partners with the county, sent a newsblast about the air conditions to local organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness.

It's up to Access Services’ street outreach teams, another partnership with the county, and other community centers like the Norristown Hospitality Center — where unhoused people can stay inside during the day — to disperse masks and to directly inform people of the conditions and indoor options.

"I think word of mouth is going to work best in this situation," said Sunanda Charles, director of the Norristown Hospitality Center.

As the center closed at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, staff handed out face masks as people were leaving.

"There should have been [an emergency shelter] a year ago," Charles said. She pointed to the Norristown Public Library as another option for those who want to stay inside, but it closes at 8 p.m.

"Depending on what happens I will consider staying open longer," she said, before the county's announcement came.

Kayleigh Silver, administrator of Your Way Home, says Access Services’ outreach team spent today providing water, masks, checking in on people, and referring people to any safe indoor spaces.

Silver said the organization is also encouraging Access Services, which operates 24/7, to use its county funding to purchase emergency hotel rooms for anyone who is "medically compromised particularly due to this situation."

Smoke drifting into Philadelphia from Canadian wildfires prompted code red air alerts on June 7, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Some doctors in the Philadelphia region are seeing patients experience respiratory issues, as wildfire smoke brings unhealthy pollution to the East Coast.

"It was just obvious that this will be affecting our patients," said Dr. Eric Sztejman, a pulmonologist and vice president of clinical operations at Virtua Health in South Jersey.

Sztejman said Virtua's offices began receiving calls from patients this weekend, then Tuesday and Wednesday, he saw a few more patients than usual with respiratory complaints.

Sztejman characterizes the uptick in patient calls and visits as "minimal." But he said patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who spent time outside reported trouble breathing and chest tightness that were not typical of their usual flares.

"One patient was outside walking her dog early this morning," he said. "She didn't have a rescue inhaler and by the time she got home, she needed to come over and see us in the office."

Dr. Olajumoke Fadugba, chief of allergy and immunology at Penn Medicine, said she has received an increased number of calls and messages from patients complaining of asthma flares this week.

"I do think that the impact of the wildfire smoke is affecting our patients," she said. "There hasn't been a massive explosion quite yet, and hopefully it will not get there."

As of late Wednesday morning, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia had not seen a rise in patients coming to the emergency department or calling with respiratory problems, said Dr. Tyra Bryant-Stephens, pediatrician and chief health equity officer at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and director of the hospital's Community Asthma Prevention Program.

"We are in the spring, so we tend to see more asthma in the spring anyway," Bryant-Stephens said.

In Delaware, ChristianaCare's emergency departments also did not see an increase in patients with issues related to poor air quality Wednesday, said Dr. Justin Stowens, associate program director for ChristianaCare's Department of Emergency Medicine.

"However, as temperatures change overnight and the wildfires remain active, we urge people to remain indoors and to seek medical care if they experience any symptoms such as difficulty breathing," Stowens said. "It is especially important for people with health conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, or reactive airway diseases to take extra care and stay indoors."

Respiratory symptoms from smoke exposure can be delayed, Bryant-Stephens said. They can also last a couple of days for people with underlying conditions, Fadugba said.

"There is what we call a ‘late phase response’ that may not peak until later that day or the next day or even two days later," Fadugba said.

Sztejman said Virtua's health system has not seen anything "too crazy" from the poor air quality yet.

"Let's see what tomorrow brings," he said.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline are shrouded in haze, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A dangerous smoky haze has filled the Philadelphia region due to wildfires burning in Canada.

A code red air quality alert remains in effect for the entire Delaware Valley Wednesday.

Visible satellite shows some of the thickest smoke we have seen moving through our region. It has reached areas from Philadelphia on north and continues to press southward.

While many areas have been in the red unhealthy zone, some places in this plume are showing up in the purple very unhealthy zone now.

The reason we are seeing such concentrated smoke has everything to do with the weather.

We are stuck in between low pressure out east of Maine with high pressure out west of us. That means wildfire smoke is being directly funneled through the northeast and into our region.

» READ MORE: Why is smoke from Canada impacting the Philadelphia region and when will it go away?

The Ben Franklin Bridge connecting Philadelphia, Pa., to Camden, N.J., in a haze of smoke from Canadian wildfires on June 7, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared a Code Red Air Quality Action Day throughout the entire commonwealth for fine particulate matter.

State officials are urging residents to limit outdoor activities, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Areas farther east in the state are experiencing worse air quality, the DEP said, possibly within Code Purple ranges.

For areas under a Code Purple, residents should limit outdoor exertion, and vulnerable populations — such as older adults, young children, and people who are immunocompromised — should avoid all outdoor exertion Pets should also be kept indoors.

Residents can check air quality conditions in their area (without going outside) by using AirNow, an interactive map that breaks down air quality conditions and warnings.

Detroit Tigers' players walk through the outfield at Citizens Bank Park after poor air quality postponed their baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Phillies’ series finale against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night was postponed due to poor air quality caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

The game was rescheduled for 6:05 p.m. on Thursday, originally an off day for both teams.

Tonight's game between the Phillies and the Detroit Tigers has been rescheduled due to the air quality in the Philadelphia area. The game will be made up on Thursday, June 8, at 6:05 p.m.

— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 7, 2023

Philadelphia won 1-0 Tuesday in haze and with the smell of smoke in the air. Phillies players and manager Rob Thomson said the conditions did not affect them, though a strong wind blowing in from center field halted three would-be home runs short of the fence.

About a half-hour before the postponement was announced by Major League Baseball, Thomson said he thought Wednesday night's game would be played. The Philadelphia skyline could not be seen from the ballpark due to haze and a smoky smell remained.

The defending NL champion Phillies (29-32) have won four in a row after losing five straight. Ace right-hander Zack Wheeler (4-4, 4.33) was scheduled to start Wednesday's contest against Tigers rookie RHP Reese Olson (0-1, 3.60).

Detroit has lost all five games on its current six-game trip and seven of eight overall. The Tigers are 12-20 on the road. Philadelphia is 16-10 at home.

A man talks on his phone as he looks through the haze at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., Wednesday, June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that state offices would close at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday due to worsening air quality conditions.

UPDATE: State offices are CLOSING today at 3:30 p.m. due to worsening air quality conditions.

Follow @NewJerseyDEP, @NJDeptofHealth, and @ReadyNJ to stay updated and informed.

☁️ To track air quality in your area, visit

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) June 7, 2023

Earlier in the day, Murphy urged residents to reduce their time outdoors.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has extended its air quality alert for the entire state through the end of Thursday.

⚠The previously issued Air Quality Action Day for Wednesday, June 7th is being upgraded to the Unhealthy category statewide. In addition, this alert has been extended to Thursday, June 8th at 11:59 pm.


— New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (@NewJerseyDEP) June 7, 2023

The alert was originally issued for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The FAA is now slowing traffic from the East Coast and Midwest bound for Philadelphia International Airport due to reduced visibility from wildfire smoke. #AirQualityAlert

— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) June 7, 2023

A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

Philadelphia is under a Code Red Fine Particles Action Day Alert, city officials announced Wednesday morning.

Residents are urged to avoid the outdoors and consider canceling outdoor gatherings. If residents must be outside, they are urged to wear a high-quality mask, like an N-95 or KN-95 mask.

Residents are also asked to help reduce the amount of pollution in the city by avoiding unnecessary car trips, idling, and using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Philly health officials: ‘Avoid going outdoors’ and try not to drive, because of wildfire smoke

— Billy Penn (@billy_penn) June 7, 2023

Homeless outreach teams are distributing masks to people on the street, according to the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services. Teams are also encouraging people to stay inside city-funded shelters, which are open.

Indoors, residents are encouraged to recirculate the air in their homes with fans to avoid bringing in more pollution.

"Pay attention to [your] bodies," health officials said. "If they are having trouble breathing, feeling nauseous, or dizzy, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible."

Public health officials say wearing N95 masks outdoors can help reduce intake of air pollution from wildfire smoke. (Jennifer Swanson/NPR)

Another air quality alert has been issued across the region as wildfires in Canada continue to burn, and smoke travels to the northeastern United States. In Philadelphia today, the city's skyscrapers were drowned by a hazy sky, and a burning smell lingered in the air.

Fine particles in the air can affect vulnerable populations such as children, seniors and people with respiratory and cardiovascular problems. People are advised to avoid outdoor activities.

Wearing the right type of mask could help, said Dr. Jane Clougherty, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University.

"Just like we learned during the midst of the COVID pandemic, N95 masks will help filter out the vast majority of fine particulate matter," she said. "Face masks, unfortunately, will not help to remove gasses from the air, but they can help to reduce individual particle exposures."

She said KN95 masks would also be effective.

Dr. Khalil Savary, a pediatric pulmonologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, adds that N95 masks must be well-fitted in order to be effective.

He advises people to avoid any outdoor activities, including dining outside, and to close the windows.

"If you have a window unit or a central air unit that's inside the house and you can recirculate the air inside, that's good," Savary said. "Even if you’re in the car, you should turn on [the] recirculate [button] on your car, instead of having the windows open."

Exhaust fans for dryers and air conditioners with outtake valves might collect outdoor air, and should be closed, he said. Lighting incense, spraying aerosol products, and using gas, wood, propane stoves or furnaces, may also worsen the air quality inside the house. Cleaning with a vacuum that doesn't have a HEPA filter could also contribute to bad air quality, Savary said.

Air conditioning filters can also remove particles and reduce the impacts of poor air quality, Clougherty said. The flipside, she said, is that air conditioning produces more emissions.

"Air conditioning is very electricity intensive, which does mean we’re increasing the demand on the electricity grid and emissions from power plants upwind of us," Clougherty said.

Purchasing an air purifier could help, but it must be a HEPA filter, experts say. Other types of systems can contribute to ozone concentrations indoors, which is a gaseous exposure that can irritate the respiratory system. The Environmental Protection Agency has information about air purifiers.

Savary cautions against running to the store, however.

"It's kind of like the toilet paper debacle of 2020. If you don't already have a HEPA filter, you can still reduce your exposure by closing the windows, circulating the air in your home," he said.

Savary advises his patients to make what he calls a "brick city air purifier."

"You get a 20 by 20 box fan, and you get a nice air filter from a home hardware store, and you pop it on the back and duct tape it, and then you’ve got yourself a filter," he said.

Those who already have breathing problems are especially at risk for harm from the smoky air blanketing the Philadelphia region this week.

The city's Code Red Fine Particles Action Day Alert means that the air is unhealthy to breathe and may cause some residents to experience negative health effects.

"We’re asking people to try to minimize the amount of time they spend outdoors and avoid any kind of vigorous activity outdoors," said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryle Bettigole. "If people do have to go outside, we’re recommending that they wear a high-quality mask, if that's possible for them. And then inside, we’re asking that people close their windows and doors to minimize the entrance of this fine particle pollution into their homes or offices."

Bettigole said some people are more vulnerable than others. "This is especially important for people who have heart or lung conditions for children and for people who are elderly, for people who are pregnant," Bettigole said. "We’re also asking people to try to avoid adding to the fine particulate pollution. So avoid driving, if that's possible, avoid idling cars, carpool if you can."

With the fires still burning in Canada, Bettigole said it's hard to predict when the problem will go away.

Smoke from wildfires in provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada made Philadelphia's iconic Belmont Plateau skyline nearly invisible on June 7, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

As smoke from the wildfires in Canada linger across the Northeast some events have been postponed or canceled.

The Point Breeze Night Market has been postponed after "consultation with Philadelphia Health Department officials."

The Philadelphia Inclusive Growth Coalition and The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia postponed an outdoor rally in front of city hall advocating for business tax cuts in the proposed budget due to poor air quality.

The 52nd and Haverford Farmers Market was closed and will return on June 14.

The city of Philadelphia's pop-up Water Bar event at noon was postponed until next week due to poor air quality.

The Legacy Tennis Center in East Falls, which trains city youth, is closed due to bad air quality and may shut down tomorrow if the situation does not improve.

Outdoor yoga at Lardner's Point is canceled by the Riverfront North Partnership.

Fishtown Beer Runners canceled its nightly run tomorrow but ‘strongly recommend you get to the bar, no questions asked’ unless there is "some relief from our smoky skies."

Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission has canceled live horse races due to "very unhealthy air quality levels in the race" and is expected to resume on Friday.

The Philadelphia Public School District and The Camden City School District postponed outdoor field trips and canceled recess outside due to poor air quality.

Popular happy hour night known as Center City SIPS where dozens of restaurants and bars attract crowds with food and drink specials is still on this evening.

"CCD SIPS will continue this evening but all participating bars and restaurants, particularly outdoor venues, are encouraged to proceed as they see fit in the best interests of both their business and their customers," said Givana Suraci spokesperson for Center City District in an email.

The Phillies are scheduled to play the Detroit Tigers at Citizens Bank Park tonight at 6:05 p.m. As of 2 p.m., Phillies spokesperson Bonnie Clark said "there have been no changes" to the baseball team's game schedule.

Visibility in downtown Philadelphia was greatly reduced by smoke drifting into the city from Canadian wildfires on June 7, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Wildfire smoke contains small particles that can get into the airways and deep into the lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. The particles, a fraction of the width of a human hair, can even exacerbate heart problems.

"Perhaps your airway gets constricted, narrowed, or gets inflamed," said Dr. Olajumoke Fadugba, chief of allergy and immunology at Penn Medicine. "Somebody may experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest heaviness or tightness or coughing. Those are signs and symptoms that there's something going on."

Exposure to wildfire smoke over a short period of time, such as a few days, can exacerbate asthma and increase risk of heart attack, according to the EPA.

People most at risk for health effects from the smoke are young children, elderly people, pregnant people, and anyone with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, or obstructive lung disease.

» READ MORE: How wildfire smoke affects your health, and how to protect yourself

Camden County issued a Code Red Fine Particles Action Day Alert on Wednesday.

The alert means the air is unhealthy to breathe, particularly for residents who have heart or lung disease, are older adults, or young children.

"Even if you aren't classified as a sensitive individual, we recommend for everyone to try to minimize the time they are spending outside or exerting energy," Camden County Health Officer Dr. Paschal Nwako said in a press release. "So if you had plans to participate in outdoor activities or exercise, we strongly urge you to reschedule until the conditions improve."

Residents are urged to avoid the outdoors. Those who do go outdoors are encouraged to wear a high-quality mask, like an N-95 or KN-95.

Officials are also recommending that residents close all windows and doors to minimize air pollution in their homes.

To avoid further pollution, Nwako said the county is encouraging residents to avoid unnecessary car trips and avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

This dispatch originally appeared on NPR.

Your non-human family members are also at risk of developing health problems from wildfire smoke, which is why experts say you can take a few steps to protect your pets when the air quality takes a turn for the worse.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping your windows closed and your pets indoors as much as possible. Birds shouldn't be let outside at all when the air is smoky.

Keep outdoor bathroom breaks as brief as possible, and save any more-rigorous exercise for when the air quality improves.

Dogs should also be kept well-hydrated during periods of poor air quality, according to The website also recommends activities like hide-and-seek, fetch and a refresher session on basic commands to keep dogs busy indoors.

Consult your veterinarian if your pet seems to be experiencing certain symptoms of illness, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, fatigue and lack of appetite.

Experts say it's also a good idea to prepare a go-bag for your pet if you need to leave in a hurry, including critical items such as food, water, medicine, first aid supplies, a leash or harness and toys.

School District of Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Outdoor activities are canceled at all Philadelphia public schools today as smoke from wildfires in Canada hovers over the city.

School district officials say they’re following local health experts’ lead. This morning, the city's health department upgraded its air quality designation from code orange to a more serious code red.

"This means that students and staff should remain indoors and limit time outside," district spokesperson Monique Braxton said in a statement. "Extended outside activities, such as outside field trips and field days should be postponed. Schools already on a field trip should move indoors. Recess and all outside activities should be moved indoors if possible or canceled."

Outdoor athletics, including games, are also canceled and will be rescheduled.

Schools have been instructed to keep all windows and doors closed to "minimize air pollution," something that could lead to uncomfortable conditions since most Philly public schools don't have central air conditioning.

"Today's forecast calls for a high of 79 °F. Though warm, the district does not expect indoor temperatures to exceed levels that would warrant early dismissal," Braxton said.

The district enacted new heat protocols last year that instruct officials to monitor conditions when temperatures are projected to reach 85 degrees or higher and consider closing schools when they hit 90 degrees.

Ninety-one Philly schools closed early due to high temperatures last Friday.

District officials said they will provide updates if the air quality status changes throughout the week.

Masks have not been recommended or required by the district, though individual nurses at some schools have encouraged families to have their children mask up.

The last day of the school year for the students is June 13.

This dispatch originally appeared on NPR.

If you’re checking the forecast today and wondering how bad the air quality is in your area, you might have come across something called the air quality index, or AQI.

That's the measurement scale the Environmental Protection Agency uses to judge how safe or hazardous the air is in a certain area.

The scale runs from zero to 500, with zero to 50 categorized as good air quality while anything over 300 is considered hazardous.

AQI is also color-coded, which makes it easier to understand the air quality conditions in your area:

Extreme heat can cause air quality issues. See the chart below to understand what the AQI Index numbers & levels mean.

☑️Check on the current air quality in your area:

☑️Use @CDCgov‘s heat & health tracker to identify heat risks:

— FEMA (@fema) July 12, 2022

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter, which can be harmful to human health and is one of the pollutants that factors into the AQI.

In this aerial image, wildfires burn in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, last week. (Communications Nova Scotia/HO/AP)

This dispatch originally appeared on NPR.

So far this year, 2,214 wildfires have raged across Canada, according to Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair. The blazes have burned 3.3 million hectares — or more than 8 million acres.

The country is currently battling 413 wildfires, 249 of which are categorized as out of control, and an estimated 26,000 people remain evacuated from their homes.

Across Québec, more than 150 fires are raging, many of which are burning out of control, according to the province's forest protection service. Authorities have restricted access to parts of the forest and closed some roads.

"This is a scary time for a lot of people, not just in Alberta, but right across the country, including in the Atlantic, the North and Québec, too," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference on Monday.

Hazy skies caused by Canadian wildfires blanket the monuments and skyline of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This dispatch originally appeared on NPR.

How bad is the air quality where you and your loved ones live? How does your neighborhood compare to the rest of the country and even the world?

You can find those answers through AirNow, a comprehensive online resource compiled by federal, state and local agencies.

Check out its interactive map for a national overview of air quality conditions and warnings, and click on your area to learn more. You can also type your city, state or ZIP code into the search feature to pull up the latest guidance.

AirNow reports air quality using the official U.S. air quality index (AQI), the color-coded index spanning green to maroon. As of Wednesday morning, the site's air quality map shows the Eastern half of the U.S. awash in yellow, orange, red and purple.

A wildfire left trees in the National Pine Barrens charred and smoking in Manchester Township, N.J., on April 12, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This dispatch originally appeared on NPR.

In the U.S., wildfire seasons are dragging out and burning more acres in recent years, thanks in part to climate change, experts say.

The Biden administration launched an effort earlier this year to combat what it called a "wildfire crisis" in the Western U.S., with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack saying it's "no longer a matter of if a wildfire will threaten many Western communities in these landscapes, it is a matter of when."

But it's not just this country — the United Nations warned last year that global warming and land use changes will lead to more wildfires across parts of the world, which could cause public health challenges and other problems.

The authorities battling Canada's current wildfires say they expect an already destructive season to worsen over the coming summer months, too.

Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, warns that people across the globe should take note, since populations worldwide could be dealing with the effects of wildfires more regularly in the years to come.

"This is something that I think even for folks who are not involved to kind of pay attention to, because this is the type of situation that we’re expecting that we’re going to see more of — not less of — into the future," he told NPR this week.

An experimental smoke and haze forecast simulation from NWS Mount Holly (NWS/Twitter)

Smoke blanketing the Philadelphia region could diminish some through midday before thickening once again this afternoon and evening. That's the prediction from the National Weather Service's experimental smoke and haze forecast simulation.

The NWS map shows heavier smoke starting to move into the Philly area around 4 p.m. with the worst of it covering southeastern PA and much of South Jersey by 9 p.m.

Experimental smoke and haze forecast simulation: the smoke and haze is anticipated to have some improvement this morning, however an additional plume of thick smoke should spread south into the area later this afternoon and evening. Avoid time outdoors. #PAwx #NJwx #DEwx #MDwx

— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) June 7, 2023

"There's another wave of heavier smoke that is just moving into northwestern New Jersey now and spreading south, southeastward. I expect that things in much of New Jersey will get worse before they get better," said Anthony Broccoli, an atmospheric scientist at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "This unusual situation results from a combination of wildfires in eastern Canada and a persistent weather pattern that is bringing the smoke from those fires south across our area."

A separate smoke forecast map put together by the Weather Forecast Research Team at the University of British Columbia shows similar expectations for deteriorating conditions later Wednesday.

The Canadian map offers details on the daily average and daily maximum concentrations of smoke particles at ground level from the wildfires.

A cyclist rides in the day's diminishing light, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Health officials on Tuesday evening issued a warning to avoid going outdoors as much as possible.

Smoke is being funneled down from raging wildfires in Quebec due to "a unique weather pattern," the Philadelphia Health Department said. It's created a noticeable haze around the region which is dangerous because it's made up of tiny particles that can go deep into your lungs when inhaled.

Philly's air quality index on Wednesday morning was extremely high: with meters registering an AQI of 212, above red and into the purple range. For reference, 0 to 50 is considered "good" and anything above 200 is "very unhealthy. (You can check your area and stay up to date at

What should you do about this? Here are some recommendations from the Health Department.

Read the full story on Billy Penn »

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