Smoke infiltrates tristate area; advisories issued

WEATHER. Multiple advisories went into effect Wednesday, June 7 as smoke blanketed New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some local schools kept children indoors during recess.

| 07 Jun 2023 | 11:37

The first reports of smoke in the Northeast flooded in Tuesday afternoon, June 6, as wildfires blazing through eastern Canada blew smoke into the United States.

By midday Wednesday, June 7, the tristate area remained blanketed in a dense smog.

Multiple local counties, including Orange County, N.Y., Pike County, Pa., and Sussex County, N.J., issued air quality warnings, urging citizens to take measures to protect their health.

Some local school districts took precautions. Monroe-Woodbury Central School District and Vernon Township School Districts moved all outdoor activities inside.

West Milford High School postponed its awards and scholarship night, scheduled for Wednesday, until Thursday, June 15. The district was on an early-dismissal schedule June 8 because of the poor air quality.

Warwick Valley Central School District in Warwick, N.Y., also moved all outdoor activities indoors, including recess, physical education and all after-school activities. Superintendent David Leach noted that the district also canceled two field trips because of the smoke.

The district made the decisions based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), which as of noon June 7, stood at 152 for Warwick, according to local weather reports.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a warning that “smoke exposure has the potential to increase human health risk.”

AQI levels of more than 150 are considered unhealthy, according to the EPA. Levels between 100 and 150 are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, including those with heart or lung disease, older adults, pregnant people and children.

Pike County was also under an air quality advisory from the National Weather Service. The Delaware Valley School District in Pike County did not commented on the protocol they initiated during the smoke crisis.

Warnings remain

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a warning in the early morning of June 7; it remained in effect until midnight June 9.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued air quality advisories for multiple counties, including Orange. This advisory took place until midnight Thursday, June 8.

“Air quality levels in outdoor air are predicted to be greater than an AQI value of 100 for the pollutant of fine particulate,” the NYSDEC alert said.

By June 9, the AQI had decreased significantly, as had the appearance of smoke.

Hudson Valley meteorologist Ben Noll had predicted conditions would ease up going into the weekend.

“From Friday through Sunday, smoke concentrations look light to occasionally moderate at this time,” his report said last week.

Noll had came out with a new report on June 11 that showed rainfall for the area and a significant decrease in the smoke for the Hudson Valley.

“The smoke output from the fires has waned following some rain in Quebec and the wind flows in the Hudson Valley will be more variable during the upcoming week,” reported Noll.