Hazy skies and reduced visibility enveloped Florida on Tuesday as wildfire smoke originating in the remote reaches of northwestern Canada drifted southward, prompting air quality alerts from health officials.
The smoke, carried by prevailing north and northeasterly winds circulating clockwise around a high-pressure system over the Mid-Atlantic, is expected to persist until early Wednesday before dissipating into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Hill.
Florida stood out as the epicenter of the most compromised air quality in the United States, according to PurpleAir. This platform monitors air quality, registering Air Quality Index (AQI) readings as high as 171 across the state. It's worth noting that AQI scores surpassing 150 falls under the "unhealthy" category for all individuals, as per the American Lung Association's guidelines.
According to meteorologist Leigh Spann of Nexstar's WFLA, the prevailing haze in the region is linked to wildfires in Canada.
"[The smoke] has come all the way down I-95 and should be with us for the next couple of days," Spann said.
Florida found itself at the forefront of the smoke concentration, enduring the most pronounced degradation of air quality nationwide, courtesy of a direct influx of north and northeasterly winds from the high-pressure system.
The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, located near Central Florida, issued an Air Pollution Advisory on Tuesday, warning of heightened levels of fine particulates persisting until midnight.
"The haze has reduced air quality in parts of central and northern Florida, and air quality remains unhealthy for sensitive people, especially those with asthma or respiratory problems," WFLA meteorologist Eric Stone added.
"With smoke sticking around this evening, look for amazing sunsets around 7:15 p.m." "Because polluted, smoky skies scatter light, they can make sunsets appear more vibrant."
As per a report by The New York Times, the ongoing wildfires in Canada play a significant role in the persistence of subpar air quality over various parts of North America. According to the Times' projections, smoke and haze are anticipated to extend along the entire Eastern Seaboard through Tuesday evening.
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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