New York City’s air quality starts to clear for first time in days
The skies in New York City have started to clear for the first time in days, bringing what seems to be at least a temporary end to the thick orange haze that enveloped the city. On Friday morning, the Air Quality Index in the city hit “moderate levels,” indicating far less hazardous conditions than days prior. 

According to federally-run AirNow.gov, Manhattan had an AQI of roughly 64 on Friday morning, putting the overall air quality in “moderate” conditions for particulate matter from the wildfires in Canada. Under this classification, the air could cause some health impacts just to those who are “unusually sensitive to particle pollution.”

IQAir, which also tracks AQI, lists the value for the city’s air quality as slightly higher with a score of 71 on Friday morning, though that still falls within the “moderate” classification.

The change marks a major turn for the city’s air quality, which on Wednesday was temporarily listed as the second worst air in the world, surging to what’s deemed “hazardous” levels. The conditions prompted city officials to issue a health advisory, urging people to stay indoors.

On Friday morning, the New York City Department of Health said that “conditions have improved…but may still be unhealthy for some people.” Those who have heart or breathing problems, as well as older adults, could still be sensitive to conditions and should limit their time outdoors, they added.

“Air quality is expected to improve over the weekend, but may vary,” the latest update from the city says. “If the air quality index worsens to above 150, all New Yorkers should limit outdoor activities.”

But the conditions have improved enough for some cherished parts of the city, which had closed earlier this week out of safety for people’s health, to reopen. New York City’s Wildlife Conservation Society said Friday that its zoos in the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park and Queens will reopen on Friday, as well as the New York Aquarium.

“There is relief on the way,” The Weather Channel meteorologist Stephanie Abrams said on CBS Mornings on Friday. “But the next couple of days will still have hazy skies and reduced visibility.”

Detroit, Pittsburgh and Raleigh are expected to have some of the worst air quality throughout the day.

“This weekend into early next week, a system will come through that’s going to give us more of a southerly flow, direct the smoke away from the U.S., the rain is going to help clear out the air and it’s going to fall right over the flames,” Abrams said.

But, Abrams warned, that “it’s very possible that this will be a long-duration event for both Canada and the U.S.”

There are still hundreds of fires burning in Canada, Abrams said, meaning that there would need to be a lot more precipitation and wind to help clear the air. NOAA satellites are monitoring more than 400 fires in the country, saying it’s on track to “have the worst wildfire season on record.”

As of Thursday, there are fires in every Canadian province and territory, excluding Prince Edward Island and Nunavu. More than 12,700 square miles of land has been burned by the fires so far, significantly more than the average for the past 10 years.

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