January 27, 2013

Weekend edition: west coast weather relieves air quality in California and Utah

Friday brought a low pressure system into California which began with low cloud and drizzle and by last night, we had broken rain showers move through the California lower central valley. While this put the DISCOVER-AQ project on a bit of a hiatus, it was welcome relief to people living in the valley who had seen Code Red and even Code Purple readings near Bakersfield at the end of last week. On Thursday, Anne Thompson and I rode through Bakersfield and up over the Tehachapi Pass to go down to Palmdale to see the NASA aircraft flying in DISCOVER-AQ and it was an experience to remember. Not since the 1960's have my eyes watered from pollution as we saw in the southern valley. And the aroma! A mixture of dairy, pork, oil wells and other sulfurous odors made the drive one to remember.

Today, the east is being affected with widespread moderate PM readings (see below left). In Georgia and South Carolina visible haze is seen in the MODIS imagery and the GASP AOD loop shows widely elevated aerosol optical depth.

Salt Lake City is 34F in rain and snow today with winds over 15mph. That is going to bring some serious relief to this area from the air quality event which has been discussed this week.

In California, rain and fog moved through the Central Valley and cleared out much of the pollution. The two images below from Terra and Aqua MODIS show cellular convection very nicely over the southern San Joaquin Valley. These clouds have precluded flying and DISCOVER-AQ will resume flights on Monday.

Finally, this spectacular photograph over Australia was taken on Saturday by Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. It has caused the twitterverse to go all abuzz about what could have caused such dark smoke.

Image credit: Chris Hadfield, CSA-ASC and NASA Posted by Ray Hoff at January 27, 2013 2:22 PM
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