December 23, 2011

Stagnant Air and Code Red PM2.5 Levels on the West Coast

PM2.5 levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow) on the east coast were good, however, PM2.5 levels on the west coast reached Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Code Red PM2.5 were observed in Oregon. Air Quality Action Days are declared in Fresno, Madera, Chico, Yuba City/Marysville, California, and Klamath Falls, Oregon. According to, Fresno has received no rain this December.  They have received 1.57 inches of rain since July, down from an average of 3.66 inches. A high pressure system has set up over the area, creating a block wall from the rest of the state, only allowing dry cold air from Canada to come in. This high pressure system has led to light winds and stagnant air in the region. With people burning wood in fire places to warm up from the cold Canadian air, PM2.5 levels have increased in the area. Soot violations have been recorded for almost every day this month. With no rainfall in sight for the region, the federal Climate Prediction Center is calling for these conditions to continue for the next two weeks. Similar conditions are being experienced in Oregon, where stagnant air and wood burning are resulting in elevated PM2.5 levels. NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS, top right) reports fires throughout the Plains States and in southern Florida. In southern Florida, smoke is observed.

Posted by Jaime Compton at December 23, 2011 8:30 PM
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