September 30, 2004

Farewell Jeanne, smoky conditions in the South

As seen on this UW MODIS Direct image, we still have lingering haze in the southeast, which has “moderateAQI. The haze is dominant in southern Louisiana with an AOD around 0.7. The haze is probably due to local fires with smoke plumes visible in the MODIS images.

The current ozone level is “moderate” in the southeast coinciding with the hazy conditions. Some parts of Texas are under code orange.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 4:03 PM

September 29, 2004

Haze in the Southeast & California

TS Jeanne formally known as “hurricane Jeanne” is responsible for the cloudy conditions in the Northeast. Hazy conditions were identified in the Southeast and California. EPA AIRNow reports mostly moderate AQI for those regions. Finally, fires were found in Montana, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

Today's NOAA NESDIS GASP Map shows elevated AOD in the Southeast and California.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:55 PM

September 28, 2004

Smoke plume in Mississippi and Jeanne over Maryland

On the MODIS Rapidfire, one can see one important smoke plume in the state of Mississippi and two smaller ones in Alabama. Actually there is another small plume (right of the last one on this picture) which is not seen on this picture. The Mississippi smoke plume is visible on the UW MODIS Direct image and IDEA site. Notice that several fires are still burning in the Southeast.

Maryland is entirely coved today while storm Jeanne is going farther north.While the east coast is under thick clouds, the west cost is relatively clear. Notice how the vegetation is changing color as we approach winter. AQI is declared “unhealthy” in southern California today. Southern Texas has an “ unhealthy for sensitive group” ozone level today.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 6:15 PM

September 27, 2004

Haze plume over the Gulf Coast

The MODIS image below (left image-UW MODIS DIRECT) shows a large haze plume southwest of Texas, which is clearly identifiable in today's NOAA NESDIS GASP map. The actual source of this haze is currently unknown but local fires might be a contributing factor. Conditions remain mostly cloudy in the Southeast as Jeanne moves in. The storm has decreased in intensity and expected to hang around for a few more days.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 5:33 PM

September 26, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne Hits Florida

Hurricane Jeanne has landed in Florida! Jeanne is the 4th hurricane this year to hit the state and is responsible for the strong winds and heavy precipitation in the region.
Source: OSEI

Today's PM2.5 map (source EPA AIRNow) revealed elevated AQI (yellow dots) in California, Texas, Washington, the Gulf Coast, and Northeast. Local fires in the Gulf coast and Texas may be responsible for the elevated air quality indexes in those regions. The rest of the nation experienced mostly “good” (green dots) conditions. Finally, a large frontal system is moving across the U.S producing clear skies and cool conditions in the North Central U.S / Midwest.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:40 PM

September 25, 2004

Smoke plume in Oregon and hurricane Jeanne approaching

The analyst from HMS detected a smoke plume in Oregon, which is indeed visible on the MODIS RapidFire image. Click here for original Rapidfire image.

Fires are still present in the south which has slightly higher AOD. The East coast has very light haze mixed with clouds, and, as seen on this MODIS Direct picture, hurricane Jeanne is approaching Florida. The west/central U.S. are still clear with low AOD values. The EPA AQI map shows some sites under code orange in California, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 7:57 PM

September 24, 2004

Light haze mixed with clouds

Lingering light haze mixed with clouds was present in the East and few fires remain in the Southeast (AL-UW MODIS Direct). Skies were mostly clear in the Mid-west/Central U.S. Fires were also found in the West particularly in and around Washington State(Rapidfire).

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:35 PM

Off to a hazy start in Baltimore MD

It looks like we are off to a hazy start. Our webcam, which is overlooking downtown Baltimore, showed mostly hazy skies. The image below was taken at 8:30am and we estimate visibility to be around 9.5km to 11km.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 8:58 AM

September 23, 2004

Clear skies in the west and east coasts

Western U.S. still relatively clear as well as the east coast which has a low AOD. Fires are still burning in the South. The AQI is moderate throughout the northeast and the east coast.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 5:12 PM

Increased Haze

Today was the haziest day so far this week, with the boundary layer rising later than usual (1700z) to a height of 1.5 km.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 1:41 PM

September 22, 2004

Moderately Clear at UMBC

Again a moderately clear day seen by the ELF system. A very thin boundary layer up to 1 km with highest aerosol concentrations near the surface between 1600z and 1700z.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 11:26 PM

Mostly clear skies around the nation for the 1st day of Fall

Skies were mostly clear (due to large high pressure systems) in the East (UW MODIS) and West (UW MODIS). Several fires have intensified in the Gulf Coast (UW MODIS) and the nations AQI (EPA AIRNow) varied from “good”(green dots) to “moderate”(yellow dots).

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 6:23 PM

September 21, 2004

Clear east

Today also, the skies above central U.S and the far east are relatively clear.
The AOD is still very low in the northeast. The AQI is good in Maryland. There are no major plumes in the US. Some fires appear in the southeast.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 5:09 PM

Elevated Aerosols in lidar

Aerosol concentrations were a little higher near the surface today than yesterday, but it remained fairly clear. There was also a thin elevated aerosol layer aloft between 2 km and 2.5 km in the morning which gradually lowered in height to 1.5 km by the afternoon. This aerosol plume did not show a significant return in the depolarization channel, indicated that consisted of mostly spherical particles.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 2:39 PM

September 20, 2004

Mostly Clear Skies in the East & Midwest

Air quality conditions across most of the nation are “good”(EPA AIRNOW) (Also refer to the GASP AOD image for the Northeast, which is the upper left image). Skies were exceptionally clear in the East and Midwest. There are no major haze events or fires to discuss today. Only a small fire was found in Texas, which is shown in the UW MODIS image below (bottom right image).

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:58 PM

Clear in lidar

Today was clear and cool. There were few aerosols aloft with a rapidly growing, thin boundary layer around 1430z.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 3:00 PM

September 19, 2004

Algae Blooms--Lakes and Gulf

The clear skies provided a good view of the algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico started in the wake of the hurricane. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario also seemed to have significant blooms and sediment as well.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 7:15 PM

Clear, light haze, and clouds

Beautiful clear skies in much of the eastern U.S. today. Some light haze across the plains states and cloudy in the west. PM2.5 concentrations were similar, mostly good with a few exceptions in the midwest.

In the afternoon, some small smoke plumes were visible in the south, particularly Louisiana.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 6:30 PM

September 18, 2004

Southcentral haze

The remnants of hurricane Ivan continued up the eastern U.S. producing very heavy rain and strong storms. The midwest and west were clear, but some smoky haze has built up in the southcentral region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana).

EPA AirNow showed moderate concentrations of PM2.5 in the southcentral region, as well as southern Wisconsin, which seemed to have some very light localized haze (only slightly visible in the true color images above).

On a not-directly air quality subject, what looks like a large algae bloom and regions of black (dead) water have developed over the last several days all along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, possibly a result of the passing hurricane.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 5:45 PM

September 17, 2004


Tropical depression Ivan is responsible for the heavy cloud cover and strong winds in he east. Skies were mostly clear in the Midwest-Central U.S with the exception of two small clouds (refer to the UW MODIS TERRA image on the right). Finally, tiny smoke plumes were found in the Gulf Coast (refer to MODIS Rapid fire image on the left) and a single fire was found in New Mexico. The country's AQI (EPA AIRNow)was relatively good.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 5:57 PM

September 16, 2004

Northeastern haze is out

The northern haze mentioned yesterday seemed to have gone out of the U.S. toward Canada. The northeast has a very low AOD according to the IDEA AOD image below. The small smoke plumes observed yesterday in Arizona and Louisiana also seamed to have disappear. The southeast and northeast are very cloudy while the west is relatively clear.

UW MODIS Direct image

Southern California is under code red concerning the AQI with an ozone level said moderate.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 7:20 PM

September 15, 2004

Smoke in Arizona and Louisiana while Ivan is approaching

The northeastern haze mentioned by Nikisa Jordan in yesterday's post is still present. It appears to extend from eastern Canada to northern US.

It seems that the haze has been pushed upward toward Canada compared to yesterday's images. Hopefully, tomorrow's data will help us determine its direction. The haze is also visible on the AOD IDEA map and the GASP image showing slightly elevated AOD in the northeast.

There still are some fires burning in Louisiana creating smoke plumes pushed away by Hurricane Ivan (NOAA). This particular plume can be seen on the HMS and MODIS RapidFire maps. Texas also has some fires.

Smoke plumes from Arizona fires are better seen on the MODIS RapidFire image bellow. These plumes are visible on the HMS map.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 6:42 PM

September 14, 2004

Northeastern & Midwest Haze

Elevated AOD remains in the Northeast and Midwest, which is clearly shown in the IDEA and GASP images. The UW MODIS RGB image also shows the haze. The source of this haze is currently unknown. Skies were mostly cloudy in MD, VA, and DC due to a frontal system that has moved in. Hurricane Ivan(OSEI-NOAA NESDIS) is moving towards the Southeast and is responsible for the increasing cloud cover over Florida.

The fire in Arizona has intensified.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 9:19 PM

September 13, 2004

Haze Remains Over the Plains…and is moving eastward

Lingering haze is still evident over the Northeast. The large haze plume is clearly distinguishable to the west of Maryland. The IDEA product also identifies the Northeastern haze. Finally, smoke plumes were found in California and Arizona.

Today's particle pollution (PM2.5) map sourced from EPA AIRNow revealed mostly “moderate”(yellow dots) AQI in the East. Haze is most likely responsible for the poor air quality in this region.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:31 PM

Aerosols Aloft in the Morning

This morning there was a thick aerosol plume aloft below 1 km. This layer mixed into the boundary layer at approximately 1800z. The ELF time series also shows fog in the morning (burning off after 1800z) and fairly hazy surface conditions throughout the day.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 7:12 PM

September 12, 2004

Haze over the plains

Cloudy-hazy all along the east coast today, with what looks like smoky-haze across the central plains from Minnesota to Texas. Below are images from Aqua (afternoon) and Terra (morning).

The AOD data from IDEA site revealed the light haze across the plains from north to south. In the east, note how the data is patchy around the clouds.

The EPA AirNow site indicated moderate air quality across the midwest and plains, with a few higher readings in Pennsylvania.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 8:10 PM

September 11, 2004

Southern smoky haze

Hurricane Ivan is not yet visible in these MODIS images, but we can see haze in the deep south, including over the Gulf of Mexico. Closer inspection revealed a few smoke plumes, so this is likely a mix of smoke and regional haze.

The AOD data from IDEA shows the haze clearly. Note, however, that the patches of very high AOD in northern Mexico are likely errors in the MOD04 algorithm (commonly appearing in that location).

The EPA AirNow site indicated moderate air quality throughout the deep south and midwest. The GASP site has been down since Thursday.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 7:25 PM

September 10, 2004

Clear Day in Lidar

The stars were clearly visible on the way in this morning, and the ELF timeseries shows that there was little in the way of aerosols today. There boundary layer was thin with some cumulus clouds between 1800z and 2130z. The highest aerosol concentrations near the surface occurred after 2100z.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 8:12 PM

Hazy/Smoky in the Gulf coast and California

Skies were hazy/smoky in the Gulf coast and California. The IDEA AOD and UW MODIS RGB images below clearly reflect the conditions. The source of this haze may be due to local fires (found earlier this week) in the regions (see old posts on the blog).

A fire was found in Idaho and New Mexico.

Nothing but clear skies in Maryland, such a beautiful day! Predominately clear skies were also evident in the central U.S.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 6:18 PM

September 9, 2004

Farewell Frances and clear west

Storm Frances is getting weaker. This true color image shows how it progresses toward the North clearing the southeast. The band 04, 07, 07 image presents a better view of the clouds and their overall direction.

Some very light haze are located over Louisiana, and, according to MODIS RapidFire, some fires are still burning in the Southeast.

The sky above Baltimore still totally covered due to Frances passing over while central and western U.S. still relatively clear. This picture was taken at 19:31 UTC from the webcam located at UMBC facing downtown Baltimore.

The AQI in southern California is “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.(Source: EPA AirNow)

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 8:24 PM

September 8, 2004

Clear in the Midwest & Fires in the Gulf Coast

Frances is responsible for the heavy cloud cover in the east coast. This storm has brought much precipitation to the area. People in the Midwest are experiencing more favorable conditions, nothing but clear skies.

Several fires were noticed in the Gulf coast, which is shown in the UW MODIS TERRA image below.

Lingering smoke from the California fires is apparent in the west, which is most likely responsible for the moderate air quality in the region. Some light haze might also be present in Washington.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 6:08 PM

September 7, 2004

Hurricane Frances in the Southeast

On this RGB picture, hurricane Frances is meeting the frontal system mentioned in yesterday's post. The East coast is therefore very cloudy with very low AOD while central U.S. is relatively clear.

This is another view of Frances forcing its way into the Southeast.

The AOD, as said earlier, is very low and the AQI is said “good” in most of the country.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 5:58 PM

September 6, 2004

Poor AQI in the North & Cloudy in the Southeast

Conditions remain mostly cloudy in the Southeast as hurricane Frances moves in. Skies are mostly clear in the North Central U.S as a large frontal system sweeps across the U.S. Hazy conditions were noted in the Gulf coast and Great Lakes regions.

Smoke plumes from the California Sonoma fires are still evident.

Today's NOAA NESDIS GASP Map shows elevated AOD in Washington, California, Northeast (Great Lakes Region), and Gulf Coast.

Today's PM2.5 map (source EPA AIRNow) revealed elevated AQI (yellow & orange dots) in California and the Great Lakes region. The rest of the nation experienced mostly “good” (green dots) conditions.

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:57 PM

September 5, 2004

Midwest haze continued

Intense haze continued over the midwest and eastern U.S. and Canada as Hurricane Frances covered Florida. Smoke also lingered in north-central California from the Sonoma fire.

MODIS AOD values exceeded 1.0 in some parts of the midwest and northeast.

The NOAA GASP AOD data showed the haze in the midwest and northeast, and relatively high AOD values in the Atlantic behind Hurricane Frances, possibly dust.

Below are the EPA AirNow PM2.5 concentrations from late this afternoon.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 5:56 PM

Weekend air quality forecast

EPA’s AirNow site had this nice graphic predicting air quality for the U.S. this weekend and showing the influence of the hurricane on regional scale air pollution. However, their prediction of improving air quality today will likely be delayed until at least tomorrow.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 5:15 PM

September 4, 2004

Fire north of San Francisco

While haze builds up in the east, a huge smoke plume is visible from a fire north of San Francisco. News accounts say this Sonoma County fire has burned 14,000 acres and is threatening homes, wineries, and power lines.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 6:58 PM

Haze in Chicago webcam

To provide an indication to how polluted it is in the midwest, here is a webcam image of Chicago (compare to the clear day Chicago). PM2.5 concentrations in Wisconsin and Illinois ranged as high as 45 ug/m3.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 6:14 PM

Very hazy midwest as Frances looms

Intense haze building over the midwest (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa) as the very large Hurricane Frances moves slowly toward the east coast of Florida. These large low pressure events can cause buildup of regional haze and I expect the haze will rapidly move east as Frances moves north. As far as I can tell, this is regional haze and not smoke from Alaska. Note also the plume moving off the coast of Massachusetts.

The haze is clearly visible in the midwest and northeast in the MODIS AOD data from the IDEA site, including some interesting streaks over the central plains.

The NOAA GASP AOD data revealed the haze in the midwest and northeast, as well as some possible dust entering the Gulf of Mexico, brought along with Frances.

The EPA AirNow site had high concentrations of PM2.5 across the midwest and moderate throughout the northeast and the region, which indicates this is regional haze not smoke high in the atmosphere.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 5:43 PM

September 3, 2004

Frances approaches the Southeast & Haze in the Midwest

Frances is creeping towards the Southeast and haze mixed with clouds is apparent across the Midwest and MidAtlantic. The images below clearly show Frances and the hazy conditions.

UW MODIS image(left) ; NOAA NESDIS GASP AOD map(right)

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:55 PM

Fog Early, Then Moderate Haze

High backscattering near the surface in the morning that was due to fog / water vapor. Moderate haze near the surface towards the afternoon with the occasional cumulus cloud on top of the boundary layer.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 6:09 PM

September 2, 2004

Southern haze

This MODIS true color image shows eastern U.S. under clouds and haze with hurricane Frances. The IDEA AOD image reveals some very slightly moderate AOD close to lower part of the Mississippi river region.

This MODIS Aqua image shows a cloudy South.

This image, taken from the NOAA NESDIS GASP website shows some very light haze in central U.S. with a moderate AOD. It would be interesting to see the IDEA AOD map showing the states of Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, it seems that, today, there is no data for the central and western side of the country.

EPA AirNow declared the AQ to be moderate for the East with some sites under code orange in California and West Virginia.

Posted by Kamonayi Mubenga at 7:50 PM

September 1, 2004

Frances is churning, haze in Southeast, smoke in Northwest

Yikes, Frances is headed towards the U.S. OSEI provides a magnificent image of this storm. How could something look so beautiful be so dangerous? And why is this storm named after a woman ;-) ? Then again Frances could be a name for a man or woman…hooray! Anyway it looks like Frances will eventually remove lingering haze from the southeast . We will certainly keep you posted on the USAQ blog.

In the Northeast:
The MODIS TERRA image below shows mostly clear skies in Baltimore MD, which agrees with today's Lidar data. Light haze was found in Northern VA which may move over MD (refer to UW MODIS RGB and IDEA AOD images below).

In the Northwest:
Smoke from the AK/BC fires has moved over the Atlantic near the west of Washington. Rapidfire provides an overall view of this event (left); the MODIS RGB sourced from UW gives us a closer look of Washington (right).

Posted by Nikisa Jordan at 7:46 PM

A Clear Summer Day in Lidar

This morning we see that the residual layer was stratified and it was very clear at the surface. Conditions remained moderately clear at the surface throughout the day. The boundary layer today was fairly thin and occasionally topped by clouds.

Posted by Ray Rogers at 5:47 PM