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The skies in New York City have started to clear for the first time in days, bringing what seems to be, at least temporarily, an end to the thick orange haze that had enveloped the city. On Friday morning, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city reached “moderate levels,” indicating far less hazardous conditions than in the preceding days.

According to federally-run AirNow.gov, Manhattan had an AQI of approximately 64 on Friday morning, categorizing the overall air quality as “moderate” for particulate matter resulting from the wildfires in Canada. Under this classification, the air could cause some health impacts, especially for those who are “unusually sensitive to particle pollution.”

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IQAir, which also monitors AQI, reported a slightly higher value of 71 for the city’s air quality on Friday morning, although it still falls within the “moderate” classification.

This change represents a significant improvement in the city’s air quality, which was temporarily listed as the second-worst air in the world on Wednesday, reaching “hazardous” levels. These conditions prompted city officials to issue a health advisory, urging people to stay indoors.

On Friday morning, the New York City Department of Health stated that “conditions have improved…but may still be unhealthy for some people.” Individuals with heart or respiratory problems, as well as older adults, could still be sensitive to the conditions and should limit their time outdoors, they added.

“The air quality is expected to improve over the weekend, but it may vary,” stated the latest update from the city. “If the air quality index worsens to above 150, all New Yorkers should limit outdoor activities.”

However, the conditions have improved sufficiently for some beloved parts of the city, which closed earlier this week due to concerns for people’s health, to reopen. New York City’s Wildlife Conservation Society announced on Friday that its zoos in the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens will reopen, along with the New York Aquarium.

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“There is relief on the way,” said The Weather Channel meteorologist Stephanie Abrams on CBS Mornings on Friday. “But the next couple of days will still have hazy skies and reduced visibility.”

Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh are expected to experience some of the worst air quality throughout the day.

“This weekend into early next week, a system will come through that’s going to give us more of a southerly flow, directing the smoke away from the U.S. The rain is going to help clear out the air, and it’s going to fall right over the flames,” Abrams explained.

However, Abrams cautioned that “it’s very possible that this will be a long-duration event for both Canada and the U.S.”

There are still hundreds of fires burning in Canada, Abrams stated, meaning that there would need to be a significant amount of precipitation and wind to help clear the air. NOAA satellites are currently monitoring over 400 fires in the country, predicting that Canada is on track to experience “the worst wildfire season on record.”

As of Thursday, fires have been reported in every Canadian province and territory, except for Prince Edward Island and Nunavut. The fires have already burned more than 12,700 square miles of land, significantly surpassing the average for the past 10 years.

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