June 22, 2017

Smoke spreads over Pacific Southwest

There were Code Yellow (Moderate) levels of PM 2.5 seen in the Pacific Southwest, the Rocky Mountain States, the Mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes, and the Southeast (AirNow, top left). There were also Code Orange (Unsafe for Sensitive Groups) levels seen in the Pacific Southwest. This elevated PM 2.5 in the Pacific Southwest and the Plains States is most likely because of smoke from Mexican fires which were discussed in Tuesday's post. The smoke coverage can be seen in NOAA's HMS map, top right. The smoke may also be coming from the Brian Head Fire in Utah, which spans 17294 acres as of right now. Plumes of smoke could be seen in NASA's MODIS Terra images, bottom left.

Ozone reached Code Red (Unsafe) levels in California due to high temperatures in this area. Ozone levels can be seen in weather.gov's ozone map, bottom right.

June 20, 2017

Fires in the Southwest Affect the Western US, and Yukon Fires Affect the Northern Territories

Vast smoke coverage was seen today from Kansas to California as pictured in the NOAA HMS image, top left. This image shows a few large plumes of smoke ranging in densities. A large plume of mostly thin smoke, likely remnant, which traveled east from he Arizona and New Mexico fires, can be seen covering from Northern Texas up to Nebraska. The same is speculated for the light density plume covering from Western Utah to California. The larger, denser, plume of smoke covering California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and a large portion of Mexico is believed to be a mixture of smoke produced by fires down in Mexico that have mixed with the smoke from the ongoing wildfires in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. This mixture has created a mostly medium density plume with patches of moderately dense smoke and smaller areas of heavy density smoke around the sources (the wildfires). Northeastern Alaska and Northwestern Canada also saw quite a lot of smoke today (NOAA HMS image, top right). The fires in the Yukon have produced quite a lot of mostly light to moderately dense smoke which expands over much of the Norther Territories and Northeastern Alaska. The denser smoke can be seen where the wildfires are burning. Poor air quality due to particulate matter 2.5 was only seen near the Mexican Border where the Mexican and Southwestern plumes of smoke met (AirNow PM2.5 image, bottom left). The majority of the nation enjoyed good air quality for the most part, with the exception of a few areas out west, in the plains, and in the northeast, which were not affected by PM but by Ozone. The AirNow O3 image, bottom right, shows a large affected area in California and Arizona where moderate to very unhealthy levels of Ozone were experienced. The Plains, the Great Lakes Region, the Mississippi Valley, and they Northeast all saw sporadic coverage or moderate levels of Ozone.

June 19, 2017

Pacific Southwest fires and Ozone

Throughout the nation there was very minimal observances of air quality events of notable size. However, in the Pacific Southwest region of the United States, we observed numerous wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona with the Cajete fire spanning over 1,400 acres and a multitude of others in Arizona (HMS top left). In the Terra image below (top right) we see the exact position of the fires and the smoke rotating Southwest towards Southern California. In conjunction with recent fires in Mexico moving North towards California, both fires in the States and Mexico has accumulated low to moderately dense smoke over southern California and the border to Mexico. Moderately dense smoke is mostly confined to its region due to low winds (Viirs, bottom left) and slight air stagnation (intellicast). High temperatures (bottom right) and low wind speeds as well as smoke and other Air Quality pollutants elevated over California may have been the cause of the dangerous levels of Ozone observed in the Pacific Southwest region of the nation.

June 18, 2017

Smoke and Dust in the Pacific Southwest Cause Elevated AOD

Ozone AQI was mostly low throughout the weekend, except for southern California, which reached unhealthy conditions (red), and New Mexico, where it was unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange) (AQI, top left). The HMS product in the top right shows the results of several active wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona producing heavy, medium and light density smoke. In addition, numerous wildfires in Mexico have produces a large area of remnant smoke. The heavy smoke in New Mexico is visible on NASA WorldView (bottom left). This smoke as well as dust (likely from the Chihuahua desert) is probably the cause of elevated AOD in the Pacific Southwest shown by the VIIRS image in the bottom right.

June 15, 2017

Fires in Arizona continue, low levels of Ozone

Air quality today was mostly good, with only scarce Code Yellow (Moderate) levels of PM 2.5 seen in Texas, the Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Southwest, the Mississippi Valley, and the Rocky Mountain States (AirNow, top left). Some of the elevated levels of PM 2.5 seen in the Pacific Southwest and Texas were most likely caused by smoke coming from the Highline Fire in Arizona, which was also discussed in Tuesday's post. The fire currently spans 1,359 acres and counting. The Fire Officials in Arizona believe the fire was caused by lightning (InciWeb). The smoke coverage can be seen in NOAA's HMS map, top right. However, since there were mostly light plumes of smoke, it didn't affect air quality too much.

Ozone levels were also not too bad, with Mostly Code Yellow levels being seen, mostly in the Southern Rocky Mountain States and the Pacific Southwest, as seen in NOAA's ozone map, mid left. This area was most likely affected by ozone because of high temperatures in this area (weather.gov, mid right), and low wind speeds in this area, bottom left. There were not stagnant winds in this area, but the wind speeds were lower than the areas surrounding it, as seen in weather.gov's wind speed map, bottom left.

June 14, 2017

Increased Ozone in Southwest, Wildfires Continue

Today, there were moderate-to-light smoke plumes covering eastern New Mexico, Western Texas, Northern Mexico, and scattered in Arizona (HMS, top left). Small plumes were also seen in Kentucky and North Carolina.
The moderately dense smoke (yellow) in Arizona is coming primarily from the Bear wildfire (~2,500 acres) north of Phoenix and the Lizard wildfire (~15,000 acres) north of Tucson. In New Mexico, the majority of that smoke is being produced by various fires in the Gila National Forest.
Moderate to high levels of Ozone were seen in the southwestern United States (AirNow, top right). Looking closer at the Ozone AQI Data from AirNow Tech, the "Red Alerts" were small spikes in the data that could be considered negligible. However, higher ozone levels were seen later in the day.
Increased levels in the Arizona region could be caused by the recent wildfires and smoke plumes traveling eastward into New Mexico and Texas. High temperatures in the area could also be a factor.
Remnant smoke from fires in Northern Mexico is also be travelling into the southern U.S causing poor air quality.
Temperatures in the northeast reached maximums of 90+ degrees which would explains the moderate ozone levels in the area (NOAA Weather, middle left).
Sparse, moderate levels of particulate matter is seen across the U.S. mainly in areas with high ozone (AirNow, middle right).
We can see some dust was aloft in the midwest (NRL Aerosol Page, bottom left). This could be contributing to the higher ozone in the area.

June 13, 2017

Fires in Arizona and New Mexico, Ozone Across the Nation

Wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico created relatively small plumes of light to medium density smoke today (HMS image, top left). The "Round" and "Teacher" wildfires in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico have burned around 2,500 acres of land. Both are believed to have been caused by lightning, and neither appears to be contained at all as of yet. The "Highline" wildfire in Tonto National Forest, Arizona alone has burned over 1,300 acres of land. This fire also seems to be producing light to medium density smoke, and all the plumes appear to be traveling east and north east. A few small plumes of smoke in the Northern Mississippi Valley, pictured in the second HMS image, top right, appear to be traveling north. Smaller local fires, possibly agricultural, could be producing these small plumes of smoke, however, there have been no reports on this, so it is uncertain what the origin of this smoke is. Particulate matter 2.5 affected the air quality mostly in the North Atlantic region today reaching moderate, code yellow, levels for the most part (AirNow PM image, mid left). Local pollution was likely the cause of these elevated pm2.5 levels. Ozone, on the other hand, not only affected the Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic, but also parts of the Great Lakes Region, the Rockies, and the Pacific Southwest, causing poor air quality, which reached moderate levels for the most part, but did go into unhealthy levels (code orange) in certain areas (AirNow O3 image, mid right). The MPL image, bottom left, shows a lidar image taken at UMBC. A pretty consistent layer of aerosol can be seen in this image at an altitude of four kilometers. This lidar image further shows the effects of the high ozone count experienced in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The high pressure system that caused the stagnation and high temperature is behind the homogeneous boundary layer, which shows no clear transitions (pictured in the lidar image).