Thick haze blankets NYC: What it means for air quality, masking

Local News

NEW YORK CITY — Wildfire smoke from the west arrived into the New York City area Tuesday morning, covering the iconic skyline with a blanket of haze for virtually all of the daylight hours.

And the haze is expected to linger for a few days, making it hard to breathe at times.

“It just kinda sucks cause you can’t [enjoy] New York at its best,” said a New Yorker named Franchesca, who spent the afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park with family.

Extremely dry conditions and heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

The haze made it a little harder to appreciate the skyline at sunset — though the sunrise Tuesday featured a bright orange sun adorning the yellowish haze.

The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and other high-rises and bridges were barley visible Tuesday evening.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 20: The Statue of Liberty sits behind a cloud of haze on July 20, 2021 in New York City. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wildfire smoke from the west has arrived in the tri-state area creating decreased visibility and a yellowish haze in many areas. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The hazy conditions from the drifting wildfire smoke lasted throughout the day Tuesday and could likely linger further into the week.

“It’s kinda crazy cause it’s across the country,” said another park goer, Richey Reeves, of the genesis of the hazy skies.

The state department of environmental conservation issued an air quality alert for the five boroughs, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley area, saying the poor air quality is a health concern.

“My concern is just that it will make it very difficult for people to move around,” Dr. Mangala Narasimhan said. “With the heat, it’s going to make that so much worse.”

Joggers and parkgoers described the air as “thick” Tuesday, and said it was hard to breathe at times.

“It’s a lot more foggier than usual. When we jog, the air quality isn’t as good, so we run out of air a little quicker,” said jogger Winnie.

Doctors said one way to stay healthy while the air quality is poor is keeping masks on while outdoors, though the heat makes that a bit more uncomfortable, Narasimhan said.

The air quality alert is expected to end at midnight, though the hazy conditions could still linger further into the week. 

The PIX11 Web and Weather teams contributed, along with the Associated Press.

What’s in the smoke? Mr. G explains:

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Connect with PIX11 Online

Connect with PIX11 Online

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

@PIX11News on Twitter