Monday, August 24, 2015

Smoke from California fires

Over the past few days we have been seeing smoke drifting in from the wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington.

Today, August 23, a light haze covered Las Cruces most noticeable in the afternoon. The photo below was taken at 6:48 pm.
I think most of the haze is from the California fires rather than those from Washington and Oregon. I ran a Hysplit model backtrajectories from Las Cruces and it shows most of the air reaching us came from areas to our west and northcentral California. This particular map below shows the pathways of air going back 7 days from Sunday afternoon, August 23. The different colors are from the model run in ensemble mode that represents variability in the atmosphere.
Up in Albuquerque and northern NM, the smoke impacts appeared to be much more intense. The news reports on Sunday shows that the City of Albuquerque issued an air quality alert due to the smoke. I ran the same model but starting from Albuquerque and it showed the smoke coming from the fires in California.
Sunday afternoon, the satellite viewed high amounts of aerosols in the eastern part of the state, likely bringing in the smoke from Washington and Idaho along the boundary of the backdoor cold front. The image below shows total aerosol amounts as seen by the MODIS Aqua satellite. The yellow colors show amounts that are high. Normally, we seen mostly dark blue colors without fires.

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