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Why is it so smoky and hazy? An eerie shroud envelops the Lehigh Valley

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — That smoke and haze that seems to have descended on your neighborhood this afternoon?

Blame it on the wildfires in Canada.

  • A dense, eerie haze drifted into parts of the Lehigh Valley on Tuesday afternoon
  • The National Weather Service said it was smoke from wildfires in Canada
  • The smoke is forecast to continue drifting south and will affect air quality Tuesday and Wednesday in the Lehigh Valley

A bizarre stretch of dry weather got even freakier on Tuesday afternoon as a thick haze drifted into parts of the Lehigh Valley.

Folks reported stinging eyes and a strong smoke smell that worsened as it got deeper into the afternoon. The National Weather Service blamed it on thick smoke associated with wildfires in Canada.

The weather service just before 4:30 p.m. said the smoke "is moving across Northeast Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey at this hour.

"It will continue through the evening and into the overnight. The smoke will continue to move south overnight. Air quality alerts are in effect."

Thousands across the region took notice.

In Northampton County, the Bushkill Township Volunteer Fire Company, which responded to brush fires in the county's northern tier Monday, posted an update on its Facebook:

"There have been numerous calls coming in for residents seeing smoke in the area," the fire company said. "Today, the smoke is visible from the Canadian wildfires and is being carried over the Eastern USA by the wind direction. It will also smell like smoke."

Many residents who smelled smoke called 911, leading fire departments to respond to calls that turned out to be unfounded. The Lehigh County Emergency Management Agency urged people not to overload the 911 system.

Northampton County issued a similar request and said it was monitoring conditions.

"If you are seeing a haze or smelling an odor of something burning without a source, it is likely the wind carrying the smoke into our area from the wildfires being battled in Canada," said Northampton County Emergency Management.

The entire Lehigh Valley was under a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Air Quality Partnership of Lehigh Valley-Berks.

It was even worse north of the region.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were set to play Tuesday night in Syracuse, New York. But the game against the Syracuse Mets was postponed because of the poor air quality. So was Wednesday's game, which was set to start at 11:05 a.m.

MORE: Lehigh Valley under red flag warning. What you need to know

Officials in South Whitehall Township outside Allentown issued this advisory to residents:

"The smoke haze occurring throughout South Whitehall Township and the entire Lehigh Valley region is due to wildfires in eastern Canada. There is also a slight odor of burning present with wind gusts. Those prone to respiratory illness should be aware that an air quality alert was issued by the National Weather Service. These conditions are expected to remain in our area through tomorrow."

MORE: A live look at the conditions.

By early evening, it was business as usual at Lehigh Valley International Airport. A spokesperson said there were no significant flight delays because of visibility issues.