NEW YORK — Officials in New York and New Jersey have urged residents to stay indoors as much as possible Thursday into early Friday, as another day of dangerous and unhealthy air quality was expected across the region due to wildfire smoke from Canada.

An Air Quality Alert remains in effect across the tri-state area through midnight on Thursday. Officials warned it could be extended to Friday.

We spoke to PIX11 Meteorologist Chris Cimino about the recent air quality alerts and shared some of the many questions PIX11 viewers had.

  • Why does the air quality get worse (murkier/more orange/more hazy) in the afternoon vs early AM and late PM? 

Chris Cimino: While not always the case, as air quality can be bad at any time of day, in this case it just so happened that the thickest layer of smoke was transported our way during the afternoon hours. 

In general however, when air quality worsens with regular pollution, it’s at its worst during the afternoon as the pollutants from car, bus, and train emissions reach its peak when we are most active.

  • Why are Canadian wildfires making conditions here, in another country, so bad? Specifically, why is the air quality especially bad in NY/NJ?

Chris Cimino: Just like in the winter, very cold air from Canada and even from the Arctic can get transported our way by the upper level winds (jet stream).

This is what is occurring now, only the air is filled with smoke from an unusually large number of wild fires occurring simultaneously in Canada.

It largely has to do with how the weather pattern sets up that then steers airflow around the globe.

This time around, we just happen to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

  • How dangerous is this air quality for people with/without pre-existing health conditions?

Chris Cimino: The air quality levels that we have been experiencing for the last 24-36 hours are extremely dangerous for those with respiratory issues.

Wednesday it was so hazardous that even for those in the best of health, this was not healthy to be out and breathing in the smoke-filled air. Today (Thursday) things are a bit better but still not recommended for those with pre-existing conditions to spend much time outdoors.

If you must be outdoors, wear a mask.

  • What is the air quality index going to look like in the next few days?

Chris Cimino: The trend over the next few days should gradually see the air quality index lower and improve.  On Wednesday, we saw numbers into the high 400s. That’s dangerous, as 500 is the highest number on the scale.

Today, we are seeing numbers more in the range of 150-200, which is still unhealthy, but slowly improving. 

The forecast shows that things will become much better by Saturday and that by Sunday, the smoke should be negligible.