A Code Orange Air Quality Alert in effect for all of New Jersey as smokey conditions continue Thursday creating air pollution concentrations that could be become unhealthy for sensitive groups.

The U.S. Air Quality Map shows New Jersey and New York City have the worst air quality in the country as of Thursday morning, especially along the Route 1 corridor. Newark and Elizabeth public schools are canceled Thursday while some will have early dismissal. Other schools that hold classes will curtail outdoor activity.

Kean University, Stevens Institute of Technology and FDU will hold classes remotely on Thursday.

State offices were on a delayed opening until 10 a.m. Thursday morning. All MVC centralized vehicle inspection stations will be closed all day Thursday.

The FAA put a ground stop in effect for arrivals at Philadelphia International Airport between 8:15 and 9:15 a.m.  Departures from LaGuardia were also delayed.

After the smoke thickened Wednesday afternoon, creating hazardous air quality conditions, New Jersey state workers were sent home early. Schools canceled recess and a free concert Thursday at the PNC Bank Arts Center was canceled by the Turnpike Authority.


Big Brook Park in Marlboro, Avalon/Belmar Bridge in Spring Lake
Big Brook Park in Marlboro (JOe Hewes), Avalon/Belmar Bridge in Spring Lake (Bud McCormick)

Protect yourself from poor air quality

Gov. Phil Murphy urged people to take precautions against the poor air including wearing N-95 masks while outdoors.

"As air quality worsens across the state, everyone should take commonsense precautions to protect themselves against negative health effects. Stay inside, stay safe, and continue to monitor the New Jersey DEP for air quality updates," Murphy wrote on his social media.

NJ Transit offered free masks for riders at customer service desks at Newark Penn, Hoboken, Secaucus, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City. Those with respiratory issues were urged by health officials to wear a mask while outdoors.

Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said air quality would gradually get better Thursday. But it's still not great and may not improve until Thursday.

"There are two elements in play here. First, current smoke will continue to thin and drift south Thursday. Second, new smoke from Canadian wildfires is shifting west of New Jersey. But the improvements to air quality and visibility will be gradual."

Sign announcing concert cancellation at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Sign announcing concert cancellation at the PNC Bank Arts Center 6/7/23 (Chris Swendeman)

Fires burn out of control in Canada

More than 400 blazes burning across Canada have left 20,000 people displaced. The U.S. has sent more than 600 firefighters and equipment to Canada. Other countries are also helping.

Canadian officials say this is shaping up to be the country's worst wildfire season ever. It started early on drier-than-usual ground and accelerated quickly. Smoke from the blazes has been lapping into the U.S. since last month but intensified with recent fires in Quebec, where about 100 were considered out of control Wednesday.

Plane flies over a wildfire in Quebec
Plane flies over a wildfire in Quebec (Services Québec)

NJ's crazy haze, choking smoke, and sinister sky

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