March 14, 2014

Continuing smoke plumes in Central, Southeast US; Possible Smoke and Dust over Baltimore

Looking at the NOAA HMS Smoke and Fire Product (top left), the small red dots indicate clumps of fires in the Midwest and Southeast while the grey areas indicate smoke plumes in the Gulf of Mexico, the Texas/Oklahoma area, and the Great Lakes. The Gulf of Mexico plume is remnant smoke from the agricultural burning in the Southeast, while the thin plumes in the Central US and Great Lakes are from the fires that have been burning across the Central and Midwest United States. In addition, the HMS saw a small band of aerosols off of the Mid-Atlantic coast that could be a combination of remnant smoke and dust, while aerosol that is believed to be migrating dust from Asia was seen moving towards the Pacific Northwest. The EPA AIRNow animation (top right), with the exception of a patch of code red AQI in Florida around 2:00 EDT, illustrates small areas of code yellow and orange AQIs were seen across the United States, with the largest area corresponding to the smoke plume in the Great Lakes.

Looking into the possible effect of the smoke in Texas, the photo to the bottom left is from the webcam located in Big Bend National Park, near the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico. As of 4:15 EDT, the visual range was only 99 miles, and one can see with the clear/hazy comparison photo (bottom right) that poor air quality has resulted from the burning fires, even on the other side of Texas. While these fires persist, poor air quality can be expected in the Southeast and Central US over the weekend.

Lidar observations from UMBC's Micropulse Lidar show the boundary layer extending up to 1.5 km. Scattering associated with particles between 1.5-3 km might be a mixture of smoke and dust particles associated with the smoke and dust discussed earlier. Size distributions derived from column sun photometer retrievals (AERONET) over the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore reveal the presence of coarse particulate aloft.

Posted by Graham Antoszewski at March 14, 2014 6:05 PM
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