Smoke Moving South in Africa; Good Aerosol Optical Depth Across the CONUS; Good AQI Levels in Maryland

This NASA EOSDIS Worldview image shows widespread smoke in the southern region of the African continent. The smoke is much grayer than the white clouds (Figure 1).  On Aug 22, the Smog Blog reported this smoke over the Congo region and the northern parts of Angola. This current image shows the smoke now stretching from the Congo into the southern parts of Angola and even into the neighboring nations of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.

The NASA EOSDIS Worldview with Aerosol Optical Depth corroborates this fact, showing high AOD in the same region (Figure 2). The AOD color code ranges from light yellow (least AOD) to red (most AOD).  For contrast, the NASA Worldview shows generally low AOD levels throughout the contiguous United States for the day (Figure 3).

The above AirNow map of the Maryland region shows Good (Green) AQI levels for the entire day (Figure 4). The AirNow Tech graphs below show the hourly PM 2.5 levels in micrograms per cubic meter (Figure 5) and the Hourly 8-hour ozone levels in parts per billion (Figure 6) for all air quality stations in Maryland. Both graphs corroborate the low AQI levels in the region throughout the day.

PM 2.5 Levels throughout Maryland (micrograms per cubic meter):

Hourly 8-hour Ozone Levels throughout Maryland (parts per billion):


Code Orange Ozone East of Phoenix; Smoke in Alberta Decreases

The AirNow map shows Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) levels of ozone east of Phoenix (Figure 1).  An ozone air quality monitor east of Phoenix in Gila County shows 8-hr ozone averages rising into the 71-85 ppb range.  This AirNow-Tech data corresponds to the Code Orange AQI (Figure 2).

The HMS image below shows decreased concentrations of smoke in Alberta on Aug 14 (Figure 3) compared to Aug  13 (Figure 4).

This coincides with the decrease in fire hotspots from Aug 13 (Figure 5) to Aug 14 (Figure 6).  FireM3 Hotspots data is provided by the governmental organization Natural Resources Canada.


Unhealthy Ozone Levels East of Los Angeles; Heavy Smoke in Alberta

This map from AirNow shows Unhealthy levels of ozone east of Los Angeles near San Bernadino and Riverside County (Figure 1).  The lower limit for the Unhealthy ozone levels is 85 ppb for the 8-hr avg.  Ground level ozone detectors in both of these counties show spikes in ozone levels above this lower limit (Figures 2 and 3).  The graphs are obtained from AirNow-Tech.  Figure 2 shows detectors in Riverside County and Figure 3 shows detectors in San Bernadino County.

The HMS map shows heavy smoke in the northern half of Alberta with data recovered from the GOES-East Satellite.  Natural Resources Canada shows 7 fire hot spots all across Alberta, several of which are in the northern half.

Low Smoke Across the CONUS; Light Smoke Across Alaska/Northern Canada; Heavy Smoke is Southeastern Alaska.

NOAA’s HMS shows no significant smoke over the contiguous United States.  This is a positive development compared to the previous week.  Light smoke is seen all across Alaska and the northern half of Canada stopping at Quebec (Figure 1).

A close up shows areas of heavy smoke in southeastern Alaska (Figure 2).  Alaska Wildland Fire Information reports several fires in the regions that correspond to those shown on the HMS map.  The heavy smoke on the left is south of Anchorage near the Swan Lake, Quill and Upper Trail Lake fires.  The heavy smoke on the right is west of Glenallen near the three Tokaina Creek fires.

William’s Flat Smoke Dissipates Over the Weekend; Smoke Levels Grow in Alaska Near the Yukon.

August 10:

August 11:

Figure 1 and 2 from NOAA’s HMS show smoke levels caused by the William’s Flat Fire on August 10 and 11 respectively.  Notice how on Aug 10, smoke levels are moderate near the Colville reservation and only light in surrounding areas.  By August 11, smoke levels are no longer visible to the NOAA hazard map.  This is a large improvement from heavy smoke levels seen last week.  INCIWEB reports that although the fire is now 45% contained, it is still 44,670 acres large.  Despite improvements, authorities are still hard at work and local caution levels are still in effect.  Specifically, dry weather in the region still threatens the stability of the fire.

Figure 3 and 4 are also hazard maps provided by NOAA’s HMS and show smoke levels for Aug 10 and Aug 11 respectively.

Aug 10

Aug 11

Notice the development of heavy and moderate smoke levels in northern Alaska on August 11.  INCIWEB provided an update on Aug 11 for a fire in this area called the Chalkyitsik/Cornucopia Complex fire near Alaska’s border with the Yukon.  The complex was caused by lightening on July 9 and has an impressive size of 501,629 acres.  Fire authorities are making steady progress in containment but the burning of fuels, such as black spruce, are producing visible smoke.  The fire still poses a threat to the nearby Gwich’in villages of Chalkyitsik, Beaver, and Venetie.  Cloud cover makes satellite imaging of this area difficult to analyze.  

William’s Flat Fire Growing; Moderate Smoke heading for the East Coast

A general view of the Hazard Mapping System Smoke and Fire Product map shows light to moderate smoke levels across Alaska, Canada, and the northern CONUS (Figure 1).  Today’s map does not show the heavy smoke density seen yesterday in Alaska and British Columbia.  Most noticeable is the heavy smoke that is still emanating from the William’s Flat Fire in the western part of Washington State.  This high density smoke has traveled east into Idaho and the northwest of Montana .  It is also spreading north into the southern parts of British Columbia and Alberta.  Even northern Wyoming is affected (Figure 2).  INCIWEB reports that this fire has grown to 40,000 acres and 25% of the perimeter is contained.  1,059 personnel are reportedly working to quell the fire.  A satellite image from GOES-East obtained from NOAA’s Aerosol Watch shows the intensity of the growing smoke plume and how it extends into the surrounding areas (Figure 3).  The smoke is circled in red and is grayer than the nearby white clouds.  

Light and moderate smoke stretches across the north-central parts of the CONUS and the south-central parts of Canada.  A comparison to yesterday’s hazard map indicates a south-easterly flow of moderate smoke levels.  This trend suggests that these smoke levels may soon reach the east coast and affect air quality in the Atlantic region (Figure 4 and 5).

Aug 07, 2019

Aug 08, 2019


All satellite images are retrieved from Aerosol Watch provided by NOAA.

Heavy Smoke Caused by the William’s Flat Fire and Other Wildfires in Washington and Oregon; Similar Smoke Density in British Columbia

This Hazard Mapping Smoke and Fire Product image procured from GEOS-East and GOES-West satellite data shows heavy amounts of smoke in the Washington, Montana and Oregon regions (Figure 1).  According to INCIWEB, the Williams Flat Fire  west of Spokane is still active  with movement to the east/northeast.  It’s significant impact on the environment can be seen in the hazard map as the smoke stretches horizontally from east Washington.  Colville Tribes Emergency Services and  the Ferry County Sheriff’s Office have both issued Level 3 Evacuation Notification to residents.  This urges residents to “Leave Now”.  It is reported on INCIWEB that although homes are not in immediate danger, the main concern is that the fire will grow and block the only exit to the area.  The effects of the Devore Creek Fire can also be seen in Washington northwest of the Williams Flat Fire.   The HK Complex Fire is causing significant smoke levels in north-central Oregon.  Smoke from the Granite Gulch Fire can also be seen in Oregon’s northeast corner.  Details about these fires are readily found on INCIWEB.

A more general view of the satellite data shows heavy smoke over British Columbia caused by fires near the area.  Light to moderate smoke is also seen in various spots across Canada and Alaska (Figure 2).

Figure 3 and 4 below are satellite images from GOES-EAST itself.  Figure 3 is time stamped at 1431 UTC, while Figure 4 is time stamped at 1651 UTC.  Observe how the smoke from the William’s Flat Fire is spreading eastward over time.  The smoke is grayer than the white clouds and is inside the red circle.  Most noticeable is the movement of the smoke just east of Spokane.

Figure 5 below is an image from the VIIRS (NOAA-20) satellite which shows the smoke stretching from Alaska through British Columbia.  Once again the smoke is grayer than the white clouds and is inside the red circle.


All satellite images are retrieved from Aerosol Watch provided by NOAA.

Heavy Smoke in Northwestern CONUS; Lower Levels of Smoke Throughout North American Region

GOES-WEST images from the Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product show heavy smoke concentrations in parts of Montana, northern Oregon, and northeast Washington State (Figure 1).  This is due to several wildfires in these areas reported by INCIWEB.  Particularly heavy smoke continues to emanate from the still active Williams Flat Fire in Washington State south of the Colville Reservation (Figure 2).  INCIWEB  reports that this is a 18,000 acre fire caused by a lightening storm on August 2, which incited burning inside of a Game Reserve.  The fire has proven difficult to contain due to the rough terrain and unstable weather conditions.  Only 25% of the perimeter has been contained and local authorities continue to tend to the situation (Figure 3).

A more general view of the hazard map actually indicates lower levels of smoke throughout the North American regions than as of late.  This is a positive development for the region which has recently been largely covered with light smoke from fire activity.


Code Orange and Red Ozone Levels in California; Cloud Capped Boundary Layer at UMBC Data from the CHM15k (Figure 1) and the UMBC Micro-Pulse Lidar (Figure 2) at UMBC both support the presence of aerosols in the boundary layer throughout the day.

GOES-16 image (Figure 3) shows below 0.5 levels of Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) in the middle of the day over much of the Continental United States and southern Canada, particularly in the central region.  Clouds hindered a good AOD retrieval over Baltimore.

The EPA AIRNow Map shows Code Orange and Code Red for ozone levels in southern California for the day.  This may be associated with high temperatures experienced in the region.

Peak Ozone (8-hour) -

Moderate Ozone Levels in Baltimore; Code Red PM Levels in Washington State Due to Local Fire

Cloud cover over the Baltimore area made aerosol data acquisition difficult through GOES-16 Imagery (Figure 1).  The EPA AIRNow Air Quality Map shows Moderate levels of Ozone throughout the Baltimore-D.C. area (Figure 2).

AIRNow also shows Code Red AQI levels due to particulate matter near Spokane, WA (Figure 3).  INCIWEB indicates these levels are due to the smoke produced by the ongoing Williams Flat fire near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake.  This fire began yesterday on August 2 and has produced large smoke plumes (Figure 4).