Code Purple and Code Red air quality days have been a new occurrence in the D.C. area this season, thanks to smoke from wildfires in Canada and the Upper Midwest. Weather experts tell WTOP — we’re not out of the woods yet.
“To experience that red and purple is definitely an eye-opener,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Kevin Witt. Witt and his team say it’s hard to predict what might happen long term, but with fires continuing to burn, it’s entirely possible the D.C. region will see more haze in the coming weeks and months.
“We may see additional days where we’ll see more frequent — not just orange, but red as well,” Witt told WTOP. “Hopefully not purple, but we’ll have to see. We are getting into the heart of summer, and summer is more or less about the haze.”
Witt says hazy conditions are already more common in the D.C. area during the heart of summer, but smoke and dry conditions are exacerbating the effects.
“We’ve been several inches below normal in terms of rainfall for this time of year,” he explained. “The dryness doesn’t help with the hazy conditions. Then you add in smoke from the wildfires.”
While the prospect of recurring hazy days is never fun, there is a small silver lining for the immediate future.
“We’re gonna get showers and storms to help relieve us — it’ll wash it down a little bit,” Witt said. “We’re gonna notice a difference in the air quality going from red and purple down to yellow and orange in the next couple of days.”
He says it’ll be important for everyone to pay attention to the forecast daily this season, especially if you or someone you know could be affected when those hazy days pop up.
“Our air quality is affected, even though these fires are several hundred miles away,” Witt said.