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Canadian wildfire smoke prompts air quality alerts across Philadelphia area. Here are maps of the impact

NEXT Weather: smoky conditions expected to get worse
NEXT Weather: smoky conditions expected to get worse 03:16

LATEST HERE: Smoke to lessen through the day Thursday; When does smoke clear out from Philadelphia region?

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Smoke from more Canadian wildfires is impacting air quality in our region again Wednesday and will likely remain through the week due to a persistent wind blowing down from the north. Air quality alerts in the Philadelphia region range from "Code Red" to "Code Maroon," which is the most hazardous level.

Skies are hazy and air quality is reduced in Philadelphia, the surrounding suburbs, the Lehigh Valley and Delaware due to smoke from over 150 wildfires burning in the province of Quebec and around Ottawa, Canada.

Several Pennsylvania and Delaware areas are among the highest AQI locations, according to AirNow, including the Lehigh Valley, Scranton and Wilkes-Barres, PA; Susquehanna Valley, PA; Kent County, DE; Sussex County, DE; and Greater New Castle County, DE.

The wildfire smoke was so widespread that it's visible from the International Space Station and we can track its path on radar.

Locally, smoke from a fire in the Bass River State Forest led to air quality concerns last week, particularly in the areas close to the fire. Also last week, smoke from fires in Nova Scotia blew down to our region, darkening the sunrises and sunsets and hurting our air quality.

Now, some of that smoke has wafted down to our region and may mix with the air toward the surface, leading to more air quality alerts Wednesday.

How is the smoke looking near you? Send us your photos and videos to be seen on air and online.

Tuesday night, local 911 centers received calls from residents who reported smelling smoke and others who reported respiratory distress.

Here's what you need to know.

Philly region upgraded to most hazardous air quality

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Philadelphia region is in the most hazardous air quality category. It's the worst the air quality has been in the city since 2008.

By 11:30 p.m., Philly now has the worst measurable air quality in the world. 

A good portion of the area was upgraded from a "Code Purple" to a "Code Maroon." It's level six on a six-point scale, which means everyone will be more affected by the air quality. 


Parts of Allentown in the Lehigh Valley are also in a "Code Maroon," meaning "hazardous" level of air quality, according to

The Lehigh Valley ranks as the second the worst air quality out of all measured locations in the United States, per AirNow. Parts of of New Jersey, including Burlington and Ocean Counties, along with Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania are also among the worst. 

On Thursday, it could possibly get into back into the "unhealthy" category as the smoke continues to move through. 


Northern Delaware, including Wilmington, is in a Code Purple air quality alert and anticipates Thursday also being an air quality action day.

A Code Red means air is "unhealthy," which is level four on a six-point scale. The general public may experience health effects due to this level of pollution but sensitive groups will feel greater effects.

Here's more on what a Code Red means and what you can do.

Anyone, regardless of health conditions, is advised to limit strenuous activity outdoors. Sensitive groups should avoid physical activities outside in those conditions.

Early Wednesday, AirNow was showing air quality as "very unhealthy" in Wilmington, Delaware, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - or 5 on a 6-point scale, with 6 being the most serious. 


Parts of Pennsylvania are also being impacted by local wildfires. Wooded areas are like tinderboxes after a very dry month of May.

The air alerts are due to fine particulate matter (or PM 2.5) from the Canadian wildfire smoke. 

When will the air quality get better?

The northern parts of our region will start to see the thickest part of the smoke around 1-2 p.m. Some portions of Pennsylvania are now in a "Code Purple," which means the air is "very unhealthy" and everyone is starting to feel the impact of the poor air quality. 

Meteorologist Grant Gilmore said it depends on just how sensitive you are on how intense the effects impact you.

The air quality will stay poor through the rest of the afternoon and into the overnight hours. Smoke can worsen at night and early morning due to sinking cooler air, drawing the smoke to the ground.

When will the air quality get better in Philadelphia? 01:14

Basically, it's going to get worse before it gets better by Thursday. 

Stray showers are possible both Thursday and Friday, but no major storms are expected. 

We should see close-to-normal conditions return by Friday morning, with notable improvement by Sunday as winds shift from the southwest, which will blow the smoke back toward the origin. The next rain chances are early next week with showers and likely storms possible Monday and Tuesday. 

How can I find air quality near me?

We'll keep you updated on air quality alerts here, but you can also check out - this is a website and interactive map run by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency showing the air quality in near real time.

Wednesday, air quality alerts were in place across the entire states of New Jersey and Delaware and much of Pennsylvania including the Lehigh Valley, the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.

A map showing air quality alerts in the Philadelphia region in effect for June 7, 2023. CBS News Philadelphia

Tracking Canadian wildfire smoke: smoke map and forecast

CBS News Philadelphia meteorologist Kate Bilo is tracking the smoke on our NEXT Weather radar.

Smoke map for Wednesday morning

CBS News Philadelphia

Smoke map for Wednesday night

CBS News Philadelphia

Tips for dealing with smoke

Below is a list of ways to take precaution while air quality alerts are in effect: 

  • Avoid extended time or strenuous activities outdoors as much as possible.  
  • If you must go outside, avoid excessive activity, such as jogging or running, and wear a mask, if available.
  • Close all windows and doors to minimize air pollution in your home.  
  • Recirculate air with fans to avoid bringing more air pollution into your home.  
  • Avoid areas of high congestion and where air pollution may be high (e.g., main streets or highways, areas with low circulation). 
  • People with underlying illnesses should monitor for symptoms, including trouble breathing, nausea, and dizziness. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  
  • Keep your pets inside as much as possible and only go outside for necessary potty break. Limit outdoor walks to five minutes. 
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