Hundreds of millions of North Americans have breathed in unhealthy air recently due to the smoky haze from Canadian forest fires spreading across the continent via the jet stream.
But the truth is, wildfires all over the US and worldwide are getting more devastating and destructive, and the tourism industry has definitely felt the heat for several years now.
If you want to escape it all this summer, plan accordingly because these nine shocking ways show how wildfire smoke has already ruined summer vacations.
Air Quality Affects Your Air Travel
It’s a crazy fact that thick smoke in the atmosphere can result in more air travel headaches than your typical fog or stormy weather events. Air pollution caused by smoke and ash contains solid particles that wreak havoc on the navigation systems used in airplane safety, and the result is more grounded planes and canceled flights everywhere.
There Might be Smoke Taint on Your Wine Tour
Southern California wildfires in 2020 made headlines for their death and destruction, and tourists visiting Napa experienced the devastation too. Wine production dropped by as much as 43 percent, and grapes subjected to the toxic compounds in wildfire smoke caused an unpleasant taste in wines labeled “smoke taint.”
Take Your N95 Mask Out to the Ballgame
Baseball tours are huge during MLB season, but games are getting affected by unhealthy wildfire smoke that players and fans would be inhaling in outdoor stadiums. In June 2023, MLB officials postponed games in New York City and Philadelphia, and games were also delayed in 2020 due to wildfires on the West Coast. An N95 mask is your best defense against toxic particulates in smoke if you need to go outside—so take that mask with you.
Get a Mulligan for Your Golf Trip
LIV wasn’t the only bombshell to affect golf in 2023—a disturbingly thick orange haze covered many golf courses across the East Coast, with air quality indexes (AQI) measuring at dangerous values. Many courses had to close temporarily, and if tees times did go ahead, many golfers complained about itchy eyes and that they couldn’t even see where their balls landed on the course.
Your Beach Vacation Could Get Smoked Out
You can’t escape to the beach in California or Florida if wildfire smoke gets intense there. The Florida Department of Health has issued “stay at home” warnings for beachgoers around the Panhandle and in Palm Beach County in recent years. In 2021, a study by the University of California, San Francisco, also found disturbing increases in skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis after a historic wildfire season… so smoky air pollution may harm your beach body too.
A New York State of Emergency
On June 7, 2023, the air quality in Manhattan and the surrounding areas measured among the worst in the world. Millions of travelers pour into New York during the summer travel season. Still, hundreds of flights into the city got disrupted, as the National Weather Service reported visibility in Queens limited to just five miles.
Better Wait On Going to the Windy City
The AirNow interactive air quality map shows Midwest areas dangerously affected by drifting wildfire smoke. The website updates frequently, but if you’re planning to visit Chicagoland on your summer vacation, the largest metropolitan area in the Midwest sits in a red zone of unhealthy air quality (as of June 27).
Visiting Some National Parks is Not Recommended
There are eight magnificent state parks along the North Shore of Minnesota. While the bucket-list views are generally breathtaking every season for any lucky visitors, current wildfire pollution ratings for these significant natural areas are climbing into the orange-to-red zone of unhealthy air quality. Other national parks have suffered from wildfire smoke in recent years, the most popular being Yosemite.
Just Say Non to Montreal Right Now
Montreal and Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, have been ranked as having exceptionally unhealthy air quality worldwide during the last week of June 2023. The New York Times travel section frequently lists Montreal as a top North American destination, but now may not be the time to enjoy the city’s chic French culture and international appeal.
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