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Canadian and western wildfires bring hazardous smoke to Virginia

“It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality meteorologist Dan Salkovitz. “All the monitors that we’ve got in the state are elevated today.” 

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Massive wildfires near the Ontario-Minnesota border, as well as blazes farther west in Canada and the United States, are bringing smoke throughout Virginia, causing state officials to issue a health alert Wednesday morning due to high levels of particulate matter.

“It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality meteorologist Dan Salkovitz. “All the monitors that we’ve got in the state are elevated today.” 

State air quality monitors registered the highest levels of fine particulate matter in Winchester and the lowest in Hampton, although all of the reports were higher than normal. 

Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid droplets in the air that can be inhaled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to these particles can aggravate respiratory systems and heart function and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma. 

Much of the smoke seen in Virginia is coming from a plume generated by hundreds of fires in Ontario, said Salkovitz, although blazes along the West Coast are also contributing. While earlier this week the effects were mostly seen in hazy skies and brilliant sunsets, smoke began mixing with air closer to the earth’s surface today, driving down air quality. 

A cold front behind the plume is expected to bring clearer air, Salkovitz said, but “unfortunately that front is taking its sweet time to get here.” 

Smoke from the western and Canadian wildfires has caused problems throughout the East Coast this week, triggering officials in numerous states to issue health alerts. 

While wildfires are driven by a variety of factors, scientists have linked their increasing incidence and intensity in the West with climate change, which has been driving up temperatures and changing precipitation patterns.

Virginia residents can sign up to receive air quality alerts from DEQ here.

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RVAH2O Now Giving the People the Straight Poop on Sewer Overflows

This real-time technology and data makes Richmond’s the first “Smart Sewers” in Virginia.

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Full credit to Whit Clements for giving me that headline of this announcement from RVAH2O.

Big Update (and Upgrade!) for Combined Sewer System Overflow Events in Richmond! 📣

Real-time data is now viewable in an interactive map that looks just like the one above so you can know exactly where and when overflows occur (and plan your James River visits accordingly!).

(The map is linked in perpetuity in our bio as “Check for Combined Sewer System Overflow Events Here” but you can also bookmark the link for rainy days!)

Here’s how it works: just hover over (or, on your phone, click on) any of the remaining 25 overflow points in Richmond to see the last time combined flows were discharged—and just like that you’ll be up-to-date!

Red triangles give you a quick notification that there’s been an overflow event in the past 48 hours. 🔺

When you see yellow boxes, that means our team is recalibrating those sensors and meters. 🟨

This up-to-date system will replace the email alerts of the past (which were triggered and automated when it rained 0.1″ at the @richmondairport, which doesn’t always reflect rainfall within city limits).

This new map uses:

  • meters at each outfall to quantify flows
  • rain gauges in Richmond
  • real-time data that’s updated continuously!

This real-time technology and data makes Richmond’s the first “Smart Sewers” in Virginia (we love being trendsetters)! 🧠🌊

And this system will help us to maximize and fully utilize the capacity within our system to prevent overflows and reduce overflow volume!

We know y’all love accurate information and continuous updates, so we hope you’ll love this upgrade and map made for you too!

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Mass Vaccination Site at Richmond Raceway Reopens Today

If you qualify for a booster, or have not yet been vaccinated, you can schedule an appointment at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877 VAX-IN-VA. Officials said walk-ins are also welcomed.

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The Community Vaccination Center (CVC) at the Raceway will resume COVID-19 vaccine operations Tuesday, Oct. 12 and will operate Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

If you qualify for a booster, or have not yet been vaccinated, you can schedule an appointment at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877 VAX-IN-VA. Officials said walk-ins are also welcomed.

More from Vaccinate Virginia on who is eligible for the booster.

Certain groups are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster, if they received the Pfizer vaccine and if it’s been 6 months or more since their last shot.

We recommend these groups receive a booster this fall:

  • Ages 65 and older
  • Residents in a long-term care setting
  • Ages 50-64 with an underlying medical condition.

In addition, these groups may also benefit from a booster this fall:

  • Ages 18-49 with an underlying medical condition
  • Ages 18-64 with an increased risk COVID-19 because of where they work or live.

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Today is Last Day to Register to Vote in 2021 General Election

Make sure your voice is heard and register to vote today.

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Register to vote, update your current Virginia voter registration, apply to vote absentee by mail, or view your polling place, election district, absentee ballot status, and voting history at the Department of Virginia Elections website.

Don’t forget that this election if voting by absentee you’ll need a witness signature.

In 2020 at total of 5,975,696 people were registered to vote an increase of 6.18% from the previous year. Of those 5.9 million, 4,486,841 or 75.08% actually voted. The population of Virginia is around 8,536,000.

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