Smoke from Canada wildfires could disrupt flights in the Eastern U.S. again Thursday after hundreds were delayed a day earlier due to decreased visibility, the Federal Aviation Administration said. “The FAA will likely need to take steps to manage the flow of traffic safely into New York City, [Washington] DC, Philadelphia and Charlotte [North Carolina] due to reduced visibility from wildfire smoke,” the agency said. The FAA briefly halted inbound traffic to Philadelphia International Airport earlier Thursday. Hundreds of flights to and from LaGuardia Airport in New York and nearby Newark Liberty International Airport were delayed Wednesday due to the heavy smoke. The FAA had briefly paused traffic altogether into LaGuardia during the day.
Around 75 million people in the US are under air quality alerts related to the wildfires, as officials urge people to limit time spent outdoors and mask up for enhanced protection. It took several days for the dense smoke from the Quebec fires to reach US cities including New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Without substantial new smoke entering the US, the dangerous air conditions are expected to improve heading into the weekend. But current weather patterns suggest the smoke will be trapped in impacted areas until it can dissipate, meaning improvements will come slowly. New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Indianapolis, Delaware, and Rhode Island, as well as other areas, are under air quality alerts. Public schools in Yonkers, New York, are closed Thursday. Other school districts in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, have canceled outdoor activities while New Jersey’s governor encouraged local school districts to do the same. Various other outdoor events have also been canceled throughout the East. The winds are also starting to push the band of smoke farther south into the mid-Atlantic, into cities including Washington, DC, and Baltimore.