DC area under ‘Code Red’ air quality alert Thursday due to smoke from Canadian wildfires

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The D.C. region is under a “Code Red” air quality alert Thursday due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires, and it will worsen before it gets better. Here’s what you need to know.

According to the AirNow rating system, the Code Red alert means the air quality is unhealthy for everyone, including those with serious health conditions.

The air quality has worsened again due to the effects of out-of-control Canadian wildfires and the weather patterns throughout the United States.

‘Go ahead and put that mask on’

People are urged to exercise indoors due to the poor air quality.

“If you must do anything strenuous outdoors, go ahead and put that mask on,” 7News Chief Meteorologist Veronica Johnson said.

The haze is also affecting visibility, with the Federal Aviation Administration issuing a brief ground stop Thursday afternoon at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. As of 7:30 p.m., nearly 180 flights involving Reagan airport were delayed and 11 were canceled.

Air pollution is measured by the air quality index, or AQI. You can look up the air quality near you on the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow.gov. Code Red falls between an index value of 151 to 200.

Earlier this month, the D.C. area was under a rare “Code Purple” alert, meaning that the air was very unhealthy.

“So we all need to limit our time outside because of that high particle pollution in the air,” said 7News First Alert meteorologist Jordan Evans. “We experienced it a few weeks ago with the fires from Canada and now we are experiencing it again because we have that northwest wind.”

Evans said he expects weather conditions to slowly improve Friday with an isolated storm in the afternoon and a southwest wind that should improve the air quality.

The first weekend of July will be hot and humid with chances of afternoon rain and storms, Evans said. He also said that Fourth of July Tuesday is expected to be hot, with highs around 90 degrees.


THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Highs in the upper 50s to upper 60s. Winds: West 5 mph.

FRIDAY: More humidity and an isolated afternoon storm. Highs in the upper 80s to 90 degrees. Heat index in the low to upper 90s. Winds: South 5-10 mph.

THIS WEEKEND: Scattered showers and storms, some strong. Highs in the upper 80s. Heat index in the mid-90s. Winds: South 10-15 mph.

Current weather

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino also contributed to this story. 

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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