Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feb. 9 - Dust storm

The conditions were right for another dust storm over the border region today. Based on a reports from the National Weather Service here are a few peak wind gusts in each county affected: In Dona Ana County at San Augustin Pass 75 mph, 71 mph in North El Paso, 41 mph at the Redrock RAWS in Grant County, 46 mph at a station near Rodeo in Hidalgo County, 53 mph at the Deming airport, 60 mph near Sunspot, and 70 mph on Salinas Peak on WSMR in Sierra County. This storm was well forecasted since early in the week and the NWS mentioned dust early in the forecasts. The photo was snapped at 12:43 pm and shows the level of haze over Las Cruces. Normally you could see the top of the Hotel Encanto from this view at 2.24 km but the haze totally obscured it.
Around the region dust concentrations were very high. Below shows hourly PM10 collected at the Deming airport station operated by NMED. Peak hourly PM10 was 1863 ug/m3 at 10 am.
Hourly PM10 at the Anthony Elementary School peaked at 3265 ug/m3 at noon today.  Hourly PM2.5 was 221 ug/m3 at the same time.

The morning MODIS image onboard the Terra satellite showed very distinct dust plumes from areas in Chihuahua and White Sands. There was also evidence for some dust coming off of areas in northeastern Luna County as well. I saw this source in Luna County emitting at the last dust storm.
Supporting our project's emphasis on bioaerosols we collected samples during this event from a 6-stage cascade impactor. Using this sampler we investigate the fungal content of the dust in six size ranges.
We also measured a peak aerosol optical depth of 0.38 at 530 nm wavelength just after 1:30 pm  this afternoon. This was measured using a single band sun photometer that we built. This was the highest AOD measured this year. This matches the GOES AOD product for this afternoon.

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