DELAWARE, Ohio — Delaware County has been grappling with hazy conditions over the past two days, and the source of this atmospheric disturbance can be traced back to the ongoing wildfires in Canada. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has issued an Air Quality Alert for the region, attributing the deteriorating air quality to the influx of smoke from these Canadian wildfires.
As a cold front recently departed from Ohio, prevailing westerly to northwesterly winds have acted as conduits for dense smoke to travel from the Canadian wildfires into the Columbus region, including Delaware County. The transportation of this smoke has substantially elevated the levels of particulate matter, specifically PM2.5, in the local atmosphere, leading to a significant decline in air quality.
The particulate matter consists of tiny particles suspended in the air, which are produced by the combustion of organic matter during wildfires. These particles can be easily inhaled into the respiratory system and have detrimental effects on human health. Despite the presence of lingering showers that aid in low-level mixing of the air, the concentration of PM2.5 particles remains high, resulting in an unhealthy air quality index (AQI) for sensitive groups in Delaware County.
The forecast for Tuesday projected an AQI of 112, indicating unhealthy conditions, while Wednesday’s forecasted AQI was even worse, at 164. These figures demonstrate the severity of the impact of the Canadian wildfires on the air quality in Delaware County.
The National Weather Service has also weighed in on the situation, providing a forecast that sheds light on the local conditions. Today, the region can expect widespread smoke, particularly before noon, accompanied by areas of fog that are likely to dissipate by midday. Despite these initial atmospheric challenges, the weather is expected to clear up, leaving behind mostly sunny conditions with a daytime high temperature of approximately 79 degrees Fahrenheit. A gentle north wind of about 6 mph will accompany these weather conditions.
Tonight, areas of smoke will persist as the weather transitions to partly cloudy skies. The temperature is anticipated to drop to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light and variable wind shifting to the eastward at approximately 6 mph after midnight.
The presence of smoke from the Canadian wildfires poses a greater risk to certain individuals, particularly those in sensitive groups. Active children, older adults, and people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more susceptible to experiencing an increase in the number and severity of symptoms during periods of poor air quality. To mitigate potential health issues, MORPC urges individuals in these sensitive groups to limit prolonged outdoor activities or plan them for the morning hours when the air quality might be relatively better. Furthermore, those facing breathing difficulties are advised to consult with their healthcare providers for personalized guidance.
As the hazy conditions persist in Delaware County, it becomes crucial for residents to stay informed about the origin and impact of the Canadian wildfires on the local air quality. By taking necessary precautions and following the recommendations provided by MORPC and other relevant authorities, individuals can protect their health and well-being in the face of these challenging atmospheric conditions.