April 25, 2014

Dust blowing over Southern Plains, but good to moderate AQIs across United States

Looking at the NOAA HMS Smoke and Fire Product (top left), the small red dots indicate a groups of fires across the Central Plains up through North Dakota. A thin plume of smoke from the Gulf of Mexico spanning to the Texas coast was seen, although the cause is most likely agricultural burning in Mexico. The HMS did see a large plume of dust migrating east across much of the Southern Plains and Mississippi River Valley, as mentioned yesterday by Daniel, originating from Asia, oddly enough. The agricultural fires in the area could also be mixing into this dust. On the other hand, the EPA AIRNow combined AQI loop (top right) details moderate AQIs for the Southeast, Great Lakes, and spots in west Texas and Southern California. Good AQIs were prevalent through the Central and Southern Plains, meaning that at least the dust is not affecting AQI in the regions.

Texas was one of the states in which the dust plume was seen, so the middle left image is from Big Bend National Park at 2:45 CDT. Comparing to the clear-hazy photo (middle right), it is clear that air quality and air visibility is diminished in the region as a result of the dust, considering the Sierra del Carmen is barely visible.

To see where this dust plume could be going after today, the MODIS Terra trajectory (bottom left) for 21 UTC today shows southerly winds through the Southwest and Southern Plains, which could push the dust north in the upcoming days through the Dakotas, Montana, and eventually into Canada. The MODIS Terra image (bottom right) may even already be seeing some raised AODs from this migration, stretching from Kansas to Montana. Air quality in the Northern Plains may be affected as a result of this plume this weekend, especially if smoke from the Plains agricultural fires migrates with these winds as well.

Posted by Graham Antoszewski at April 25, 2014 5:04 PM
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