June 8, 2023: The D.C. region is experiencing poor air quality due to smoke from raging Canadian Wildfires. The air has reached “very unhealthy” levels, posing resident risks. Here’s what you need to know:
Understanding Code Purple: Initially designated as a Code Red day, the air quality rating for the D.C. region has escalated. Meteorologist Eileen Whelan states that pollution levels have been the worst in the past 20 years.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued a Code Purple Air Quality Alert for the D.C. region. This alert advises residents, especially those with respiratory issues, heart disease, asthma, or older adults, to stay indoors and avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
Measuring Air Quality: Air quality is measured using the Air Quality Index (AQI). You can check the air quality near your location on AirNow.gov. The AQI indicates the cleanliness of the air and potential health effects. A satisfactory AQI ranges from 0 to 50, indicating minimal or no risk from air pollution.
Stay Indoors: Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist, advises individuals to remain indoors during this period. Various outdoor activities, including school programs, sports, and field trips, have been canceled due to the Code Red Air Quality Alert. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is also closed temporarily due to poor air quality.
Source of the Smog: The smog affecting the northeastern U.S. originated from wildfire smoke in Canadian provinces. Massive fires generate a unique cloud called pyrocumulus, carrying smoke high in the atmosphere. Strong winds transport this smoke long distances, leading to widespread smog in affected areas.
Weather Forecast: Isolated showers may occur on Thursday or Friday due to an upper-level low-pressure system. However, significant rain and relief from the smog are expected on Monday, with an upcoming weather system accompanied by increased humidity.