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August 31, 2016

'Code Orange' air quality action day issued for Philadelphia

Unhealthy ozone levels aren't expected to be as high moving into Thursday

Health Environment
traffic jam Kichigin/Kichigin

Cars stuck in traffic drive bumper-to-bumper.

Partially because of the high temperature, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is forecasting unhealthy ozone levels throughout Philadelphia on Wednesday. 

The city is under what the department calls a "Code Orange" air quality action day. That means that young children and seniors, especially with lung or other serious health issues, should keep their outside time to a minimum.

The department said the ozone pollution is especially bad today because of a combination of high pressure moving off the coast, little wind, sun and temperatures creeping up to 90 degrees.

The elevated ozone levels won't last past Wednesday as cooler temperatures set in Thursday and Friday. Code Orange is one step below the department declaring a Code Red, the highest severity rating in unhealthy pollution levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The National Weather Service predicts early morning showers and a possible thunderstorm for Thursday with a high around 83 degrees with winds between 5 to 8 mph. Friday's high will cap at 81 degrees with winds between 7 to 10 mph. Lows for both days are expected in the 60s. 

The cooler temperatures make way for a pleasant Labor Day Weekend with Saturday's high at 79 degrees.

Philadelphia just survived a brutal heat wave and string of 90-plus-degree days that at times saw temperatures tip-toeing around 100 degrees. The heat claimed four deaths, reported

To help improve air quality, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection urges residents to pump gas after dusk, carpool, combine errands for fewer trips, use public transit and set air conditioner thermostats to higher temperatures.