A blanket of hazy air that has coated Tampa Bay over the past few days is Canadian wildfire smoke that will likely remain in place for the next few days.
On Tuesday morning, some portions of Tampa Bay were considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to AirNow, a U.S. air quality index. AirNow considered sensitive groups to be those with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and pregnant women. Air quality in most other areas of Tampa Bay was considered moderate. Those who are unusually sensitive should stay inside, the air quality index advised.
Pinellas County issued an Air Pollution Advisory for Tuesday due to elevated levels of “particulate matter pollution,” which is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Particles like dust, dirt and smoke are large enough to see with the naked eye, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pinellas officials advised sensitive groups to reduce time spent outdoors until conditions improve.
“It caused us a lot of haze yesterday, and it’s continuing into today,” said Jennifer Hubbard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office. “It’s just haze, and it’s not too much of a restriction on anything.”
Hubbard said the smokiness may clear out this afternoon, but it’s likely to ebb and flow over the next few days.
An area of high pressure over the eastern United States is pulling smoke from Canadian wildfires down over the eastern seaboard and over much of Florida, said Eric Oglesby, a meteorologist with the weather service.
The smoke is stretching across all of Florida, where areas as far north as Jacksonville and as far south as West Palm Beach are experiencing unhealthy air quality conditions.
For now, the smoke is trapped in our area, but by the later part of this week, the smoke should begin to move out, Oglesby said. A cold front that is likely to make its way down through Florida could help push out the haziness, and bring some cooler, drier air, Oglesby said.
To see the air quality in your area, click here.