August 30, 2015

Western Smoke Moving East; Code Red PM2.5 AQi in the Pacific Northwest

Smoke was seen throughout the Pacific Northwest and Central Canada through Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington and the central US.. The smoke is from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The Arrowhead Springs Area fire in central California is contributing as weel with its smoke traveling eastward. Wildfires in Montana continue to burn, but cloud cover over this region and along the Eastern US didn't allow to determine the area or extent of smoke. AOD and RGB products from the NASA's MODIS sensor show the locations with heavy smoke coverage. The smoke is impacting the air quality in the Pacific Northwest with PM2.5 AQI levels ranging from Moderate to Unhealthy (Code Yellow to Red). In the Eastern half of the US, a high pressure system is fueling the Moderate PM2.5 concentrations due to poor ventilation and stagnation.

The images below are analogous to the MODIS images above but for the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor, aboard the Suomi-NPP satellite. The AOD and smoke flag are shown below.

August 28, 2015

Numerous Fires in Northern Rockies

The U.S. Forest Service map of large incidents, below left, shows little of the background in northern Idaho and eastern Montana due to the fires in the area, indicating that smoky conditions there are unlikely to end soon. The NWS Storm Prediction Center's Fire Weather Outlook, below right, shows a critical area in eastern Washington and parts of northern Idaho due to high winds and low relative humidity expected around the fires tomorrow.


The MODIS Terra image shown below right seems to show smoke funneling through a pass between Bozeman and Billings, Montana, which won't help matters in Billings much. Unfortunately, clouds cover most of the smoke in the middle of the country, obscuring the extent and thickness of smoke in that region.


August 27, 2015

Smoke plume stretches from Canada to texas

The Pacific Northwest reached very unhealthy PM 2.5 levels today (AirNow, top left). Moderate AQI levels appeared essentially where smoke was present. A massive plume of smoke is shown originating from fires in the Pacific Northwest, extending as far northeast as the Hudson Bay and as far south as Texas (HMS/NRL combined, top right). Portions of Alabama and Georgia had elevated AQI levels likely from sulfates. Patches of aerosols along the southern Alaskan coast and northern Gulf of Alaska are believed to be dust from Asia.

The immense amount of smoke is probably the cause of the heavy aerosol loading over the central U.S. (NOAA GASP, bottom left). The red spots on NASA's MODIS image are burn scars from fires in Idaho and Oregon. The most visible scars are likely from the Soda wildfire in Idaho and the Cornet-Windy Ridge and Canyon Creek Complex fires in Oregon, which were the state's most recent largest fires.

August 26, 2015

Smoke Continues to Cover the Nation

The high number of fires igniting in the Pacific Northwest are still creating several light to very dense plumes of smoke that have traveled North, East, and Southeast covering a huge part of the Nation and a large part of Canada (HMS Fires image, top left). The GASP AOD animation, top right, shows the scale of concentration of particles in the areas being covered by the plumes of smoke. Dark blue is low concentration, shifting all the way to dark red, which is high concentration. The highest concentration of smoke is near the fires and it becomes lighter as it travels Southeast through the Plains toward the Mississippi Valley. This high concentration of smoke is the cause of the poor air quality in the Pacific Northwest where it ranged from moderate, code yellow, in some areas to very unhealthy and even hazardous, code purple, in other areas (AQI image, bottom left).

August 25, 2015

Widespread Light to Heavy Smoke impacts the nation

The Northwest and a portion of California reached very unhealthy AQI levels (AirNow, top left). There were widespread moderate AQI levels likely due to the vast plume of smoke that is affecting the nation. Heavy smoke originating from the Pacific Northwest is travelling into Canada and the Rockies (HMS, top right). This smoke converts to light to medium density and progresses through the Plains and a majority of the Mississippi Valley region. The heavy smoke from central California fire is heading into Nevada.

The NASA terra satellite image shows the heavy northwestern smoke in more detail (bottom left). This dense smoke is likely the cause of the heavy aerosol loading that is shown impacting the western and central U.S. (NOAA GASP, bottom right). The President approved Washington's Federal Emergency Declaration for additional aid to battle the ongoing wildfires. One of their largest fires is the Okanogan Complex fire, totaling approximately 256,000 acres. Oregon's Cornet/Windy Ridge wildfire is approximately 100,000 acres wide, according to InciWeb.

August 23, 2015

Heavy Smoke in Pacific NorthWest and Eastern Canada

A large area of smoke, ranging from light to heavy densities, are visible across a majority of the western and central US. The heaviest smoke in the US is visible originating from the wildfire complexes in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, as shown below in the NOAA smoke product and the MODIS rgb image. AOD retrievals by NASA's Aqua MODIS reveal levels exceeding values of 1.0 over these regions.The smoke is impacting the air quality along its path with AQI levels reaching CODE Purple and Red. Also, a large area of remnant smoke originating from the wildfires in the western US is visible crossing the border into central and eastern Canada. The heaviest area of smoke is located in Ontario, Quebec, and Anticosti Island moving NE towards the Atlantic Ocean.

August 21, 2015

Continued Heavy Smoke in Northwest

The EPA AQI loop below at top left shows a large region of Unhealthy AQIs in the northern Rock Mountains, with some spots reaching Very Unhealthy. This is probably due to the smoke from the lingering fires both in the area and in the Pacific Northwest. The HMS smoke image at top right shows moderate to heavy density smoke over most of the area, supporting this hypothesis. The GASP AOD loop below at bottom left shows the smoke in the northern Plains moving east toward the Great Lakes, while the MODIS Aqua RGB image below at bottom right shows detail in the Pacific Northwest that was obscured by clouds in the GASP image.




Among the sights visible in the Aqua image is smoke coming from fires in Oregon and Washington; more detailed images of these plumes are shown in the bottom row below, in that order.