Residents across a wide swath of Florida woke up to hazy gray skies and unhealthy air quality as wildfire smoke from Canada made its way down to the Sunshine State.
Here’s what happened.
How Canadian wildfire smoke impacted Florida:
Air quality was ranked unhealthy in several areas in or near Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Lake Okeechobee and Venice.
Other areas had air quality considered unhealthy for sensitive groups such as people with asthma. Those included several spots in the Tampa Bay area as well Sarasota, Ocala and Lakeland.
-We’ve gotten used to seeing wildfire smoke pollution recently in places like New York City, but this kind of event is extremely unusual for Florida.
Weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman adds:
Incredibly, that plume of wildfire smoke, which blanketed Maine and Atlantic Canada last week, has made it as far south as Florida and was also moving westward near the northern Gulf Coast.
This smoke was steered southwestward by an omega block of high pressure that is responsible for monthly record heat in the Plains, Midwest and Northeast.
It’s a reflection of how extreme and widespread Canada’s wildfires have been this year. Almost 800 fires are still burning as of Oct. 3 from the Yukon and Northwest Territories to Quebec.
Why wildfire smoke is so bad for you:
Wildfire smoke contains microscopic particulate that’s 30 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair.
-Those tiny particles are made up of things like chemicals, metals, acids, soils and dust. When people breathe in air polluted with wildfire smoke, those particulates can get deep into the bloodstream and lungs.
AirNow.gov tracks real-time air quality for every zip code in the U.S. and also features a wildfire/smoke map to track what’s happening in your area. A number between 151 and 200, or the “red” category, denotes unhealthy air quality. Orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups.