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Flights to LaGuardia paused, the FAA says. Smoky, hazy skies, health alerts for Long Island continue

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The FAA paused flights bound for LaGuardia Airport Thursday morning, as haze and smoke from Canadian wildfires continued to impact the New York area.

“The FAA has paused flights from the Northeast, Ohio and Mid-Atlantic bound for LaGuardia New York Airport,” the Federal Aviation Administration announced in an email around 7:30 am

It said departures to La Guardia were delayed an average of 54 minutes due to low visibility and that it would “take steps to manage the flow of traffic safely into New York City, DC, Philadelphia and Charlotte.”

There is also the chance of ground stops at Newark, Kennedy and Teterboro airports.

There were 58 delays within, into, or out of the United States today at LaGuardia Airport according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. Kennedy Airport has 47 such delays. There are 30 such delays at Newark International Airport, according to FlightAware.

The delays came a day after the smoke and haze led Gov. Kathy Hochul to call it a “crisis” and issue warnings about air quality, forced schools to cancel all outdoor activities and even the Yankees to postpone their game against the Chicago White Sox, residents of Nassau, Suffolk and the tristate area will be in for more of the same smoke-filled skies Thursday.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an air quality health advisory for Nassau, Suffolk and New York City’s five boroughs, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties, warning of continued pollutants composed of fine particulates in the air, making just being outdoors unsafe.

The alert will remain in effect through midnight Thursday, officials said, warning: “People who may be especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollutants including the very young, and those with preexisting respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease. Those with symptoms should consider consulting their personal physician.”

Air quality index numbers came close to hitting the maximum number of 500 in parts of New York City — numbers officials said had not been seen since the 1960s. Major Eric Adams encouraged all city residents to stay home Wednesday night and Thursday if possible.

Acting New York State Health Commissioner James McDonald said anyone who goes outside should wear a mask such as a KN95 or N95.

For a good portion of the day Wednesday, the haze-filtered skies turned eerie, dusky orange, leading hundreds, if not thousands, of Long Island and New York City residents to post photos to social media, some joking about the apocalypse. But the very real hazards caused school districts across the Island to cancel all outdoor activities, a decision likely to remain in place through Thursday.

New York City Public Schools already had Thursday scheduled as the so-called Anniversary Day / Chancellor’s Day for school-based staff development — making it a regularly scheduled non-attendance day for all students. But, late Wednesday, it was announced via Twitter and other social media that Thursday would also be a remote day for staff.

“Given the air-quality conditions expected,” the tweet on the official NYC Public Schools site read, “Tomorrow will be a remote-work day for staff.”

And New York City also announced that alternate-side parking regulations would be suspended Thursday due to air quality issues — though parking meters will remain in effect.

The Yankees rescheduled their postponed game Wednesday night against the White Sox to a doubleheader Thursday, with games scheduled for 4:05 pm and 7:05 pm at Yankee Stadium. It was not clear if, given expected conditions, those games are now at risk of being postponed as well.

School districts across Long Island have issued online messages to parents and students advising outdoor activities will again be suspended Thursday — though most, if not all districts, are expected to remain open. On its website, the Sewanhaka Central High School District, which includes Sewanhaka, Elmont, Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Franklin Square, posted a message that read that while schools would remain open Thursday, “All outdoor activities will be suspended, and students will remain indoors. Windows will be kept closed and ventilator units will be running to provide ventilation and air filtration.”

The message added: “Students may choose to wear a mask and the school will also have masks to distribute.”

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced the postponement and rescheduling of many state championships, issuing a statement via Twitter that read: “#NYSPHSAA is relying on NYS DEC information & data. Games will not be played with AQI exceeding 100.”

The DEC, in its alert for Thursday, said the air quality index is expected to exceed 100 for the day. According to the National Weather Service, a range of 101 to 150 is categorized as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

The thick haze will keep temperatures on the unseasonably mild side Thursday, with a high hovering around 70 degrees in most areas, the NWS said. Overnight temperatures dipped into the 40s in many areas. Light, variable winds are expected to move into the area late Thursday, with showers likely on Friday. That could put a damper on the haze.

Meanwhile, state health officials continue to urge New Yorkers of all ages to avoid outdoor activities — and advise them to wear masks if they do venture outside.

Traffic slowed Wednesday due to haze conditions will create similar hazards for drivers Thursday and the conditions are also expected to impact area flights once again, one day after hundreds of flights were delayed at local airports across the tristate area.