July 30, 2013

Fires continue in Pacific Northwest causing Code Red/Purple. Layers aloft in Baltimore.

The first image below, courtesy NOAA HMS, shows the fire locations across the United States. The red dots correspond to active fires, and the grey areas are plumes. There are large plumes and a high concentration of fires in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. There is a large plume covering most of the area north of the Great Lakes region. These plumes are mostly stretching eastward. The second image below, courtesy of GASP EAST, shows the retrieved AOD for the country today. You can see that most of these raised values correspond to more optically thick areas, which correspond to the fires and smoke debris throughout the nation. Specifically, the large concentration of fires in the Rocky Mountain region show up clearly in the AOD image. You can see slightly raised values in the Great Lakes region due to sulfate aerosols and smoke layers. Also, there appears to be heavy smoke being picked up in the Atlantic. (CALIPSO image not available at this time, but NOAA HMS picked it up also).

The first image, courtesy EPA AIRNOW, shows the AQI animation for the highest actual AQI for the country which is in Medford, Oregon for Pm 2.5. This is much higher than the forecasted values for the region. The large fires and heavy smoke plumes in the area are most likely the cause for this code red/purple measured.
The second image is from a GEOS-5 0 UTC modeled run for the AOD due to all aerosols. You can see that the smoke plumes in the center of the country are being advected eastwards which has not exactly been picked up by NOAA HMS, so air quality in the Mid-Atlantic may be affected in the coming days. The raised AOD in the model "northwest" appears to be picked up by MODIS Terra (above).

The first image below shows the UMBC Micro Pulse Lidar (MPL) Normal Relative Backscatter lidar profile for today. There are light smoke layers aloft between 5 and 10 km that are stronger in the morning (12:00 UTC) and then begin to fade into thinner layers. The capping boundary layer has trapped most of the aerosols causing this strong separation in signal. There still appears to be a weak signature of the plume around 6 km at 18:30 UTC. Although not shows, the Hysplit Back-Trajectory shows that the layers aloft were most likely due to Pacific Northwest/Great Lakes region fires and smoke.

Posted by John Sullivan at July 30, 2013 8:33 PM
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