A Code Orange air quality alert issued on Tuesday will be upgraded overnight in the Triangle due to smoke from wildfires in Canada.
For the overnight hours through Wednesday night, the alert will be upgraded to a Code Red for much of central North Carolina and the Triangle. Code Red is the fourth highest of the five categories and is considered unhealthy. The Code Red alert begins at midnight. Wednesday will be a WRAL Weather Alert Day.
A view from Sky 5 showed the downtown Raleigh skyline covered in a haze on Tuesday afternoon.
The Code Red warning indicates the air is unhealthy for some in the area. Children, the elderly and those with heart or lung disease should limit their time outdoors.
Wake, Durham, Orange, Lee, Chatham, Moore, Franklin and Nash are several of the counties under the Code Red alert. Wednesday should be the worst of the smoke, but this could be an issue through Friday.
"As we head into tonight and tomorrow, we continue to see the smoke pushing into North Carolina and it's going to be thickening up," WRAL meteorologist Kat Campbell said. "What this means is it's unhealthy for everyone to be outside."
With rain in the forecast on Wednesday. Campbell said possible light rain in the morning could lower some of the smoke from higher in the atmosphere.
The Raleigh skyline will appear overcast or hazy at times this week, and more than 73 million Americans are under an air quality alert.
Wildfires in Canada are causing a spike in air pollution that's now affecting the Carolinas and prompting air quality alerts for both days.
Dangerous air quality can impact seniors, young children and people who have breathing issues. The alert will remain in effect until Thursday morning.
Johnston, Harnett, Cumberland, Wilson, Wayne and Sampson counties are under a Code Orange alert for Wednesday.
According to WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner, it's not uncommon for the Triangle to be under Code Yellow in the summer.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the air poses a threat for sensitive groups of people. This includes children, older adults and people heart or lung diseases, asthma and other preexisting respiratory conditions.
Code Orange is an action day, meaning people in this group will need to limit time outdoors. Healthy adults can carry on with their usual activities.
"You just don’t want to overdo it with this amount of smoke in the air," Gardner said.
On Wednesday, cloudy skies and a chance for rain could improve air quality a bit.
The spike in air pollution comes from the wildfires raging in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia -- more than 1,000 miles away. The jet stream is steering the smoke all the way through the east coast into North Carolina.
Hazy skies have blanketed a wide portion of the country.
You can help prevent air pollution by driving less, conserving electricity and avoiding idling in cars.
The wildfire that forced thousands of residents from their homes in Canada's Atlantic Coast province of Nova Scotia is now contained, but officials said Sunday a second wildfire remains out of control. The blaze broke out a week ago, forcing 16,000 people from their suburban homes and destroying some 200 structures, including 151 homes.