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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Midwestern Skies Enveloped by Haze from Canadian Wildfires

Smoke from Canadian wildfires covered Chicago and the rest of the Upper Midwest on Tuesday, prompting many residents of the nation’s third-largest metropolis to wear masks and stay inside.

Earlier this month, when deadly smoke lingered over the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, Chicagoans were mostly spared serious consequences. On Tuesday, however, the air quality in the city and the surrounding areas in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota was officially declared to be hazardous.

According to IQAir, a Swiss air-quality technology business, Chicago had the worst rating of any large city in the world by midday, with an Air Quality Index of 209. Green Bay, Wisconsin had an index of 175, while Grand Rapids, Michigan saw a whopping 255. If the index is above 100, persons who have breathing problems should take extra care.

Chicago’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, urged citizens to remain home and away from the smoke if they could, or to wear masks if they had to go outdoors because of the health risks it posed to children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung conditions.

New York officials have issued a smog advisory for Wednesday. According to Governor Kathy Hochul, sections throughout the state, including the west and central regions, may be experiencing poor air quality.

Since wildfires seldom contribute to the air pollution in Chicago, many residents were taken aback by the unexpected flood of smoke. One North Sider inquired on a Nextdoor forum Tuesday morning, “Has anyone noticed a weird acrid smell in the neighbourhood?”

In an effort to keep kids safe from the smog, summer camps hurried to come up with alternative activities. The lakefront in Chicago was eerily empty on Tuesday, despite being a popular destination for runners, bikers, and beachgoers during the city’s moderate summers.

The Michigan state veterinarian’s office issued a warning to pet owners, advising them to limit their pets’ exercise and reminding them that even birds are susceptible to the effects of polluted air.

On Tuesday, as a blanket of smoke settled over most of the state, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued its 23rd air quality advisory of the year.

According to agency meteorologist David Brown, Minnesota typically issues just a handful of air quality advisories year. According to him, the previous record was 2021, with 21 alerts.

According to Mr. Brown, wildfire season in Canada doesn’t even start until early July, so northern U.S. states may be at risk of bad air quality for weeks.

Minnesota issued its most recent air quality warning on Tuesday morning, and it was slated to expire on Thursday. The majority of the state’s southeast and eastern regions are included.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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