Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Code Orange Air Quality Alert Issued for Hampton Roads Region

(Virginia Department of Environmental Quality)

WAKEFIELD — The National Weather Service in Wakefield issued a code orange air quality alert Wednesday due to poor air quality from Canadian wildfire smoke moving into the area.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a code orange air quality alert across the Hampton Roads area for fine particulates until midnight, NWS Wakefield said in an air quality alert on its website.

An air quality alert means that fine particulate concentrations within the region may approach or exceed unhealthy standards, NWS Wakefield explained. Noting code orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups — those with respiratory and/or heart ailments, older adults and children — the agency urged those groups to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion during the period.

NWS Wakefield later posted that degraded air quality conditions were expected to continue through the rest of today due to smoke pushing south from the wildfires in Ontario and Quebec, and the agency’s Maryland counties were upgraded to a code red around mid-day.

According to media reports, smoke from some 160 active Canadian wildfires has blanketed the northeast and as far south as South Carolina, forcing officials to issue air quality alerts in 13 states. While the fires have been burning for weeks, favorable weather conditions have brought the smoke to the U.S., impacting outdoor activities and sporting events throughout the region.

The June 7 Lionsbridge FC vs Greenville United game was been canceled along with all USL League Two games throughout the East Coast due to the unhealthy conditions. The Lionsbridge game cannot be rescheduled due to scheduling conflicts. Single game ticket for holders can exchange it for a future 2023 Lionsbridge game or paid ticket purchases can be refunded.

The City of Williamsburg Parks & Recreation Department postponed several due to air quality conditions, including youth softball games at Kiwanis Park, adult softball games at Quarterpath Park, youth tennis lessons at Kiwanis Park and adult tennis matches at Kiwanis Park.

As of mid-day, the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools DoG Street parade celebrating the Class of 2023 will continue as planned, with WJCC Schools urging participants to consider their family’s specific circumstances when planning participation this evening.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality noted the area may continue to see impacts from the wildfires for the next several days, recommending that if it looks smoky, to shorten or choose less strenuous outdoor activities. By mid-day, it was cautioning about the potential for spikes in pollution.

Residents can monitor air quality reports on the Department of Environmental Quality website.

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