June 23, 2016

Smoke Spreads Across Mid-US

The U.S. had Code Yellow (Moderate) levels of PM 2.5 for most of the day concentrated over the Mid-Atlantic, the Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes States, and the Southeast (AirNow, top left). There was smoke spread across the Plains States, the Rocky Mountain States, and the Northern part of the Mississippi Valley. NOAA's satellite images gave a graphic representation of the smoke mentioned above, as well as current fires in the US (top right). The smoke is most likely due to fires in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Heat advisories have been established in each of the previous states by the National Weather Service, stating that the high temperatures and humidity in these states may be hazardous to people's health. The MODIS image (bottom left) shows some smoke mixed in with clouds over the Great Lakes Region.

June 22, 2016


An air mass above Baltimore was visible today on UMBC's ALS350 lidar at around 3000 to 4500 meters, as seen by the image in the top left. We believe it to be smoke; this conclusion was made after looking at the backwards Hysplit trajectory, top right, which shows the wind trajectories for the 22nd of June at the altitudes where the Baltimore plume was detected (3000m (red), 3750m (blue), and 4500m (green)) moving southeast from Canada where a large plume of remnant smoke, generated by a wildfire in central Alaska and two wildfires in the Northwest territories, is seen from central Canada into the Northern US. The Modis image, bottom left, shows the thin layer of smoke, detected by the lidar, among clouds directly over the Baltimore area. Also, the air quality in the Pacific Southwest and southern Rocky Mountain States remains poor due to the elevated ozone levels caused by high temperatures in the region.

June 21, 2016

Smoke spreads from Southwest and Canada; Widespread Moderate Ozone

Fires in the Southwestern U.S. have generated a large swath of light to heavy density smoke, ranging from the Baja coast to the lower Mississippi Valley region (HMS, top right). This particulate matter is potentially a contributor to the elevated aerosol loading in that region (NOAA GASP, top right). A smoke plume was also observed moving from Saskatchewan through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

EPA AirNow reports little in terms of particulate matter (mid left) but an extensive amount of ozone (mid right). The Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Los Angeles area experienced the worst of the ozone levels, reaching up to very unhealthy levels during the day.

Smoke from the Cedar Fire in Arizona was visible in NASA satellite imagery (bottom left). This fire, which began in mid-June for unknown reasons, has now reached a size of approximately 37,500 acres at 22% containment (InciWeb). More images of this fire can be found here. The NASA Terra satellite also captured images of plumes and haze from fires in Colorado (bottom right).

June 20, 2016

Smoke Layers Aloft Across Pacific Southwest; Widespread Elevated Ozone Conditions

Much of the nation experienced poor air quality conditions, with widespread Code Yellow and Orange surface ozone AQI conditions in the Pacific Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast states. The worst ozone levels were reached across southern California, peaking in the Code Red, Unhealthy, range (top left). PM2.5 conditions today were a bit better, only peaking in the Code Yellow, Moderate, range in southern California/Arizona (top right). According to the HMS analysis team, moderately dense smoke continues to drift across the Pacific Southwest (bottom left).Today's MODIS overpass illustrates moderately elevated aerosol optical depth (AOD) near the wildfires that continue to burn in eastern Arizona and central New Mexico (bottom right). Further north, across the Plains and Great Lake states, a light layer of aerosols aloft, possibly residual smoke from Arizona fires, was reported, along with very slight elevated AOD measurements.

June 19, 2016

Happy Fathers Day! Smoke over Canada and Southwestern and Eastern United States

NOAA HMS reported remnant smoke northwest Alberta (top left image) moving southeast. This area of smoke originated from wildfire activity over central Alaska and possibly across Siberia. In addition, light to heavy density plumes of smoke from two wildfires in the Yukon region were seen traveling towards the east. Today over the eastern half of United States light smoke was observed by satellites (top right image). Agricultural and prescribed burns in the Middle Mississippi River Valley produced light density smoke which has traveled northeast and mixed in with this area of remnant smoke (middle panels, left image NOAA HMS smoke product and right image is MODIS RGB image) produced by the California, Arizona and New Mexico wildfires. These fires continue to burn producing moderately dense smoke plumes.

The record setting temperatures in the Southwestern United States continued today with weather patterns enhancing the production of ozone at the surface, as shown in the Peak Ozone AQI image below (source Airnow). Code Orange AQI concentrations were reported in Southern California. In the Great Lakes states ozone reached Code Orange AQI levels as well, fueled by the the high temperatures (in the 80's) and clear skies over this region.

June 17, 2016

Fires in Southwest; Smoke over the Plains

The MODIS Aqua image below at top left shows elevated AOD over the central Plains, which the HMS indicates may be from fires in the Pacific Southwest. These fires are still going, as seen in the MODIS Terra image below at top right, prompting the New Mexico Departments of Health and Environment to issue a statement as the winds weaken and high pressure builds into the weekend. This high pressure can be seen in the NWS surface analysis for three P.M. local time, shown below at bottom left. The EPA AQI map below at bottom right shows Moderate AQIs in this area, although their other maps indicate this is ozone.

June 16, 2016


Air quality in the US was mostly good today. AirNow's AQI map, top left, shows that there were Code Yellow (moderate) levels of PM 2.5 in the lower Plains States, the lower Pacific Southwest, and the Mississippi Valley. There are wildfires in the Plains States and the Pacific Southwest, which are most likely contributing to the dense smoke shown in HMS's smoke and fire map, top right, as well as the elevated air quality levels in the Plains States and Pacific Southwest. Smoke from Arizona appears to be travelling northeast towards the Rocky Mountain States and the Plains States. This is shown in NASA's MODIS satellite images of Arizona, bottom left.

Ozone levels reached Code Yellow in the Rocky Mountain States and on the border between the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi Valley (AirNow, bottom right). Ozone levels also reached Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in Colorado, which was caused by high pressure systems in Colorado as well as in the states surrounding it.