Air Quality even worse today before improving for Thursday and beyond

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday june 7 2023 very unhealthy air quality health alert wildfire smoke
A comprehensive look at everything you need to know about the very unhealthy air quality in the Finger Lakes, including when conditions may improve. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

What You Need to Know About Air Quality

North winds over Quebec have ushered  another large area of heavy wildfire smoke into the Finger Lakes this morning.

According to model data, this smoke is even thicker and more concentrated than the smoke yesterday, and air quality levels are already at unhealthy levels.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used as a measure of how unhealthy the air is based on a variety of factors. The factor we are concerned with is small particulate matter on the order of 2-3 micron in size. These particulates not only irritate the eyes, throat, and lungs, but also enter the bloodstream via the lungs and can result in the aggravation or development of cardiovascular issues.

The AQI Scale is based on values from 0 to 500. Values over 150 are considered unhealthy for the general public, with values over 200 considered very unhealthy and triggering a Health Alert. Yesterday afternoon and evening, much of the Finger Lakes region hovered in the 190-210 range.

Air Quality tends to get worse through the day. Yesterday, morning values were close to 130 and increased to around 200. This morning, we are started out around 190, but have already shot above 220. 8 AM UPDATE- AQI Values have jumped even higher and are over 290 in some areas.

A large area just upstream of our region over Canada is at the Hazardous level, at over 300. That final level triggers a Health Warning for emergency conditions and all outdoor activity should be avoided.

Unfortunately, the Air Quality Forecasts from the NYS DEC have not been updated as of 7:45 AM and still forecast values far below what they already are for today. 8 AM UPDATE – The DEC Has updated the forecast for today, but it is completely worthless, with a projection only in the 170s.

finger lakes weather wednesday june 7 2023 air quality map showing very healthy to hazardous conditions across the Finger Lakes and north of Lake Ontario.
This 7 AM Air Quality Index map shows unhealthy (red) to very unhealthy (purple) AQI already in the Finger Lakes with a large area of Hazardous (maroon) AQI just north of Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes region is outlined in black. Click to enlarge. Map from with data from the EPA Office of Atmospheric Protection and
New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

I believe the region will experience Very Unhealthy conditions throughout the day, and I would not be surprised if there are areas and times where it enters the Hazardous, emergency inducing levels over 300.

» Check the latest AQI values for your area at

As much as possible, avoid being outside today and keep windows closed. Check in on those who have preexisting respiratory and cardiovascular health issues.

This is not something our region has seen in many years, so there are bound to be some who want to brush it all off as hype, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.

I have built my business on the core principles of Honesty and No-Hype forecasting. While I am not an expert on Air Quality, I fully believe that this threat today should be taken seriously and am putting my reputation behind this based on factual, scientific data and not internet rumors and hear-say.

When Will Conditions Improve?

The good news is that conditions should begin to improve after today based on two main factors.

First, as the fires in Quebec increase their smoke production this afternoon with the daytime heating cycle, winds in that area will have bit more of an easterly component than they did yesterday, when producing the smoke that is currently overhead.

The core of the smoke plume tomorrow should be to our west, centered on southern Ontario. There will still be smoke in our atmosphere, and amounts will increase with western extent. However, it should be much less than today or yesterday.

On Friday, the early indication on the models is that the plume should be even further west with low amounts of smoke in the Finger Lakes.

Furthermore, both Thursday and Friday should have scattered to numerous rain showers, both here in New York, and to the north in Quebec. While the rain will be hit-or-miss, there should be enough showers that all areas should see at least some rain between the two days.

Any rainfall will help wash the particulate matter out of the air, thus continuing to improve air quality.

I would still expect elevated levels of the AQI on Thursday as a residual of today. By Friday, I am hopeful that there will be little to no air quality concern left… but I caution that this remains a low confidence speculation more than a forecast given the lack of experience we have with this situation and the extremely disappointing lack of accurate forecast data from the EPA.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wed jun 7 | wed, heavy smoke upper 50 | thur, scattered showers low 60 | fri, scattered showers mid 60 | sat, scattered showers low 70 | sun, sun and clouds mid 70 | mon, scattered pm showers mid 70 | tues, sun and clouds mid 70
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Weather Beyond Air Quality

Moving beyond Air Quality, yesterday’s temperatures ran nearly 10 degrees below what was forecast due to the thick smoke. I have knocked temperatures in today’s forecast all the way back to the upper 50s based on that, though some areas may get warmer if the smoke thins in the afternoon.

Temperatures were always going to be chilly on Thursday, with highs near or slightly above 60 degrees. Again, rain showers are likely on Thursday. The rain may come at any time, but will be especially likely in the afternoon.

Friday will not be much different, and there may even be an increase in rain showers.

A few showers will linger into Saturday before a quiet day Sunday. Temperatures should return to the 70s for the weekend.

A new weather system will move in early next week. This system should bring southerly winds with it, further preventing a repeat air quality crisis. Rain is likely Monday night into Tuesday, but the amounts remain uncertain.

There should be a couple more chances for showers later next week with temperatures sticking close to average.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Zip Code Forecasts

» Your Forecast

» Get the FLX Weather Mobile App

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wed jun 7 | wed, heavy smoke upper 50 | thur, scattered showers low 60 | fri, scattered showers mid 60 | sat, scattered showers low 70 | sun, sun and clouds mid 70 | mon, scattered pm showers mid 70 | tues, sun and clouds mid 70
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.