December 7, 2017

Wildfires in California cause large amounts of smoke

The Pacific Southwest and Northwestern regions experienced large amounts of PM 2.5, mostly due to ongoing wildfires in these areas. PM 2.5 levels rose to Code Purple (Very Unhealthy) levels in the Pacific Southwest, along with Code Red and Code Orange (Unsafe and Unsafe for Sensitive Groups, respectively), as seen in AirNow's PM 2.5 map, top left. The spread of the smoke in this region can be seen in NOAA's HMS map, top right. The smoke is mostly coming from California. One of the wildfires contributing to this smoke is the Thomas Fire in California, which currently spans over 130,000 acres and counting (InciWeb). The area affected by this fire can be seen in InciWeb's wildfire map, bottom left. Some areas may be evacuated in this region as the wildfire is spreading very rapidly. The smoke from the wildfire could be seen in NASA's MODIS Terra images, bottom right, mixed in with some cloud coverage.

November 30, 2017

Light PM 2.5 spreads across the east coast

Air quality was not very good today, as there was a large amount of PM 2.5 spread across the Mississippi Valley, the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic, along with the Pacific Southwest and the Pacific Northwest (AirNow, top left). This elevated PM 2.5 was not due to widespread smoke, as there were only very light plumes of smoke seen in the southern Plains States and the Southeast, as seen in HMS's smoke map, top right. These light amounts of smoke most likely did not impact the air quality in these areas very much. Ozone levels, however, were very low, following the trend of low ozone in the winter months.

November 26, 2017


The HMS image (top left) shows several low density smoke plumes scattered throughout the southeast United States. These are believed to be from small, localized fires. In addition, several small fires in Arizona are producing thin and medium density smoke, this is slowing moving north with some remnant smoke in that area from yesterday. Since the density of the smoke is relatively low in these areas, it doesn't seem to have a huge effect on particulate concentration. The AirNow image (top right) shows moderate PM AQI levels through most of the country, with a localized area that is "code orange" (unhealthy for sensitive groups). Lastly, surface ozone levels were low as well, with moderate levels at the Texas, New Mexico border (AirNow, bottom).

November 23, 2017

Ozone levels continue to drop and low levels of PM 2.5

Air quality was mostly good today, with mostly Code Yellow (Moderate) levels being seen in the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes region, along with the Rocky Mountain States and California (AirNow, top left). However, this elevated PM 2.5 was not due to any smoke, as there was little to no smoke seen in the nation, as seen in NOAA's HMS map, top right. There were also very low levels of ozone seen in the nation, as seen in's ozone map, bottom left. This low amount of ozone is not surprising, as ozone levels generally decrease as the weather changes to colder temperatures. The cold temperatures could be seen in's temperature map, bottom right, which show that the areas with lower temperatures generally had higher levels of ozone.

November 22, 2017

Smoke plumes in Mississippi Valley and Aerosol in California

Due to agricultural burns, there were several small, thin density smoke plumes over the Lower Mississippi Valley (travelling south-southwest) and Midwest (travelling north) (top left, HMS).
In Western Alberta, a smoke plume was visible travelling north-northeast from the parent fire. Visibility was obstructed by patchy cloud cover leading us to believe there may have been more plumes.

A small amount of Saharan dust was visible travelling westward across the Caribbean (top right, Copernicus). It extended from the north-northwest to south-central Caribbean.

Moderate levels of aerosols were seen scattered across the States. Levels reached Code Orange in Central California (bottom left, AirNow). In the southern San Joaquin Valley (California), aerosol was observed moving south towards the southwestern edge of the valley. It has caused visibility issues from Fresno to Bakersfield throughout a large portion of the day. The aerosol is likely increased sulfate from car emissions due to increased travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ozone levels across the U.S. were low today with moderate levels in the southwest.

November 16, 2017

Smoke creates high PM 2.5 in Plains States

There was a lot of PM 2.5 seen across the nation, with Code Yellow (Moderate) levels being seen in the Southeast, the Mississippi Valley, the Pacific Southwest, the Rocky Mountain States, and the Great Lakes region (AirNow, top left). There was also some Code Orange and Code Red (Unsafe for Sensitive Groups and Unsafe, respectively) seen in the Southeast and the southern Plains States. This elevated PM 2.5 was due to smoke coming from the Southeastern wildfires, as seen in NOAA's HMS map, top right. This smoke was very widespread, and small plumes could be seen mixed in with cloud coverage in NASA's MODIS Terra images, bottom left. Lastly, ozone levels were very low, with only small amounts of Code Yellow being seen in the Rocky Mountain States (, bottom right).

November 9, 2017

Low levels of ozone begin as winter is coming

Air quality was mostly good today, with only some Code Yellow (Moderate) levels of PM 2.5 seen in the Rocky Mountain States, the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic, as seen in AirNow's PM 2.5 map, top left. There were also small amounts of Code Yellow seen in the mid Plains States and California. There was some smoke seen in the Rocky Mountain States, but it does not seem to have had a large impact on the air quality in this area (NOAA, top right). There was also little to no ozone seen in the nation, which was most likely due to the low temperatures coming with the winter season.