Advancing plumes of smoke from the record fires ripping through much of the West Coast have now arrived in New York City — blanketing the sky with a milky haze that’s expected to last for several days.
The swath of smoke swept eastward this week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first becoming noticeable in New York on Monday. Meteorologists expect the graying effect to be even more pronounced on Tuesday, remaining present until the smoke is eventually pushed off the coast by a cold front on Friday.
According to New York Metro Weather, the smoke will travel between 15,000 and 20,000 feet overhead, meaning that ground-level air quality will not be impacted.
The National Weather Service’s New York office described the overhead sky’s “yellow or brown tinge,” reiterating that smoke will not pose a threat to air quality.
If you looked up to the sky today, you may have seen a yellow or brown tinge. You were seeing smoke from the fires out W. This GOES-16 visible satellite shows smoke at 25,000 ft, as well as active fires and the busy tropics. We took a photo at our office to show the smoky sky. pic.twitter.com/tAgfomjNNC
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) September 15, 2020
Widespread haze is likely today in NYC, as a plume of wildfire smoke from Western US wildfires moves overhead. The smoke will remain elevated between 15,000 and 20,000 feet above our heads, as visualized by this vertical cross section. pic.twitter.com/ZTmJYfOymw
— New York Metro Weather (@nymetrowx) September 15, 2020
Huge clouds of smoke have smothered parts of California and the Pacific Northwest for weeks now, forcing residents to stay inside while preventing hazardous air from seeping into their homes.
Experts describe the extreme fires and smoke conditions as an unprecedented event fueled by the climate crisis, and a “dark precursor of a future without steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Washington Post.
“The shear amount of fire on the landscape is surreal,” Nick Nauslar, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho told the outlet. “No one I have talked to can remember anything like it.”
In other residual local impacts from the churning climate crisis, authorities are warning of high surf and dangerous rip currents on New York City and Long Island beaches this weekend as a result of Hurricane Paulette — one of five tropical cyclones currently active in the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s only the second time on record that this many tropical cyclone systems have been active simultaneously in the ocean.