Showing posts with label wildfire impacts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wildfire impacts. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Aug. 21 - Haze hits the borderland today

If you looked outside this afternoon and looked up you would have noticed a light haze. Particularly noticeable later in the afternoon with the setting sun. A quick run of the Hysplit model in the backward mode showed the source region of the haze. Below is a backtrajectory map from Las Cruces examining the air 5 days in the past. The past 24-hour showed the air from the southeast along the Rio Grande. Going back even further the airmass made a turn along the path of the high pressure center and passed through the upper Midwest and through the northern Plains.
Knowing that there are numerous wildfires burning in the west and looking at the smoke plume analysis maps you can be fairly sure that the haze in our area is from those fires.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27 -

The smoke here in Las Cruces wasn't as bad as expected this morning as this photo taken at 8am shows.
For the remainder of Thursday the smoke will probably be transported toward the west-southwest.
By late morning pyrocumulus could be seen from MODIS. Below is the Terra MODIS image from this morning with Hysplit predictions from the fire.
I could briefly see the pyrocumulus cloud from my office in Las Cruces at around noon while visibility was very good. A few cumulus clouds are making it harder to see now by 3 pm. As of 5 pm the smoke plume had traveled southwest into Arizona and covers most all of Hidalgo County.
 In other news, today's high temperatures were near record across the borderland today. So far the high at NMSU was 106F that I observed at 3:30pm. So far the high at the Las Cruces airport is 105F and also 105 at the El Paso airport ASOS KELP.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26 - Silver fire with substantial impacts to Las Cruces

June 26 -

Impacts from the Silver fire were substantial over Las Cruces today as winds were light and tended to follow the terrain. Below are wind streamlines at 8 am Wed. that show wind patterns causing the smoke to fill in the valley this morning. The streamlines point toward the southeast from the fire, draining toward lower elevation and along the Rio Grande.

Most of the smoke was elevated in the morning and above the shallow temperature inversion. The photo below was taken about 8:30am looking toward the Organ Mountains with the smoke thickest about half way up the slopes.
Yesterday we saw some smoke drifting in from the Silver fire and lift by evening. Below are hourly measurements of PM10 (blue line) and PM2.5 (red line) collected at the Fabian Garcia Horticulture farm on campus in Las Cruces. As of noon the Organ Mountains 10 miles away are obscured by the smoke from campus. As of 1:30pm the Las Cruces airport was observing 7 mile visibility.  Below are the PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations at the NMSU Las Cruces campus as of 9 pm.
We took a PM10 filter sample today to analyze particle morphology in addition to getting a mass concentration to compare with the continuous sampler. We ran the BGI PQ100 for just under 12 hours and also collected particles on a nuclepore filer for analysis with the electron microscope. Below is a representative image from the nuclepore filter during the smoke event today. Many of the particles looked similar to this one. I think this is a soot particle made up of many smaller monomer strands. Physical diameter was on the order of 10 microns. There were also particles that looked geological in nature and a few biological particles.
This morning the smoke was kept aloft above an inversion over Las Cruces. The CL31 ceilometer running as a backscatter lidar clearly allows us to visualize that. I highlighted the top of the layer when the backscatter signal was high starting around 5 am. By 11 am the smoke started to mix down toward the ground as the inversion broke up and caused PM2.5 concentrations to increase rapidly.
The forecast for smoke for Wednesday and into Thursday is for more impacts of the Silver fire in the area around the fire to include Las Cruces as shown in the map below.
I'm more concerned about the overnight smoke concentrations and early morning. The NOAA smoke forecast guidance maps show smoke settling in the Rio Grande valley and potentially causing high PM2.5 concentrations on Thursday morning, June 27. If you live in the area with shading, I would make sure your windows are closed tonight and turn off your swamp cooler if you have one.
Forward trajectories from the fire overnight are supporting this forecast. The trajectories in the map below are from the RAP 20km model run with a Hysplit ensemble at 500m starting height from 04Z to 21Z.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25 -

Westerly winds transported wildfires smoke toward the east today as seen from the NOAA HMS smoke product. The Mexican fires had less of an impact on New Mexican counties while the smoke was well south of the border today. The Silver fire has burned approximately 85,000 acres and at 20 percent containment.
Silver fire smoke forecasts from the fire community predict the plume to be transported east through Wednesday. Potentially unhealthy smoke impacts are predicted in the immediate area during the morning hours.
No relief in the form of precipitation is in the forecast for this week. However the experimental 7 day precipitation forecast is showing a chance for light amounts over part of southern NM by next Tuesday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23 - Impacts from wildfire smoke continue to impact the borderland.

Fires continue to burn in Mexico and bring smoke to New Mexico. Below is the NOAA HMS smoke product as of Sunday night. Fires across NM and CO fill the skies over much of central US today based on the map.
Looking a little closer using MODIS imagery from the Aqua satellite this afternoon you can see the individual smoke plumes from the Mexican fires impacting areas east of Lordsburg. Background image was from Univ. Wisconsin CIMSS/SSEC. The Silver fire plume continues to impact areas north of TorC in northern Sierra county.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22 -

Downwind of wildfires in Mexico and nearby Silver fire in the Gila. We saw hazy skies along the border today with most of it attributable to the wildfires in Mexico due to the west to southwesterly winds blowing the smoke across the region. Below is shows the outlines of smoke plumes in white and locations of fires as the red dots from the NOAA HMS website.
Hysplit backtrajectories from the various populated areas just reinforce this smoke transport from the fires in Mexico.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21 -

I've done some traveling and missed a couple of events along the border while I was gone but gained some insight on the drought while traversing the Rio Grande from Taos.

The border air quality first event that I looked at that is worth mentioning was the night-time haboob on the early morning of June 20. Below is a radar animation of reflectivity starting just before midnight. Watch the outflow boundary move northward over time. Winds were high along the boundary and caused quite a bit of dust.
Smoke from fires in Mexico contribute to hazy skies on the 19, 20, and 21st. Below shows the outlines of smoke as provided by the NOAA HMS product today at 17:42 UTC (11:41 am).

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20

Moderate air quality is expected today in southwest New Mexico.
Winds were mainly out of the westnorthwest near the surface based on the Deming profiler this morning.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19

Fires are still active but smoke in our region is less than last week. The smoke impacts forecast for today anticipates moderate (yellow AQI) air quality in SW New Mexico.
A bigger story in our region is going to be the winds today and resulting blowing dust. The National Weather Service is forecasting west southwest winds between 28 and 33 mph, with gusts as high as 47 mph. The 15Z RUC is showing winds strongest over the center of our region, along I-10. Below are wind predictions at 6 pm MDT.
The Deming profiler is showing high winds aloft that look to mix down as our day progresses.
The Horseshoe2 Fire remains the biggest source of smoke in our region based on the number of acres burning and its proximity. As of this morning is has burned 210,331 acres and is 75% contained. Yesterday 3,997 acres were burned. Trajectory colors are 500 (green), 1500 (blue), and 4000 (red) meters above the ground. The trajectories start at 15 UTC (9 am MDT) and are shown every 3 hours till tomorrow morning at 6 am. Fire locations are from the NOAA HMS product at 11:30 am today. The smoke product shows a little plume SE of Deming at the foot of the Little Florida Mtns. Not sure what that is since the fire detection doesn't pick it up. My window looks out toward that direction and I don't see anything at noon. The trajectories from the Monument fire run a similar path so depending on the amount of smoke and dispersion we'll get impacts from both. We will also get smoke from the Hachita Fire located just west of Hachita on both sides of highway 9.

At 1:15 pm haze is starting to increase looking out toward the west. At 5 pm the haze was dense with blowing dust. The pic below was looking southwest from the Highrange Neighborhood.
Thick haze from both smoke and dust later in the afternoon around 6 pm. The haze had a slight blue hue. Strong smell of smoke at 7 pm tonight. Below are the HMS smoke and fire products at 8:53 pm. Notice the red shading or thick smoke over Luna county.
At 10:30 pm some ash was falling down on campus. You can see a couple in the image below as sort of a gray smudge.
The last of my Teflon filter samples was taken today. I collected four polycarbonate filter samples of soot tonight to look at under the campus scanning electron microscope. I took two 10 minute and one 20 minute sample. I think I got enough sample since the filters smelled like a campfire as I was putting them into their petri slide protectors. I had hoped to collect some dust samples but the PQ100 sampler pump couldn't take the pressure drop from the 0.4 micron pore size nuclepore filters. Instead I used an external diaphram pump that was heftier. I still used the PQ100 filter holder, WINS PM2.5 impactor, and the PM10 inlet. I'll check the flow rate tomorrow.
The ceilometer was picking some of this up too. I'll wait till tomorrow morning to download the data. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18

Air quality impacts from the fires in Arizona were predicted to be in the moderate AQI range today. Blowing dust in isolated locations will potentially degrade this.
This morning light haze filled the skies in Las Cruces with light winds. Winds at the Deming radar wind profiler showed westerly and west-southwest winds throughout the day.

A nice milky pink sunset at 8:11 pm. Pichacho Peak is to the left of the image.
Samplers are ready for the dust tomorrow. Below we have the MiniVol and a PQ167 below that. These are collocated with the DustTrak II, a CL31 ceilometer, meteorological station, and the NWS Cooperative Observer site.

June 17

The air quality from smoke is improving as we continually see fires but not as intense as last week.  However, air quality near the fires will remain a concern as night time smoke drainage down from higher to lower elevations will be an issue. These are difficult to forecast since it depends on the terrain and low level wind patterns. I saw some haze this morning in Las Cruces but not that much more than we usually get. We had some cloud cover that masked some of the smoke today. Below is the NOAA HMS smoke product with fire locations as of 10:26 pm tonight. The Monument fire remains active and burning near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The plume has mixed in with the smoke from the Horseshoe2 to add to the haze.
We saw mostly WNW winds from the surface through 5 km up till this afternoon. Aloft winds are back to southwest in the evening but surface still WNW.
The air quality outlook includes a forecast of winds for this weekend. It will be windy again on Saturday but on Sunday we could see wind blown dust as our major pollutant. However, the winds will also produce more fire activity and probably more smoke in the Monument and Horseshoe2 fires. Temperatures are expected to be in the 100 to 103 range in the lower elevation desert on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's smoke outlook shows our area with moderate air quality.
I have not seen any relief in the form of rain at least for the next week. The QPF product shows continued dry over the next 5 days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16

Air Quality Alert for Thursday. This includes southwest New Mexico near the Wallow and Horseshoe2 Fires.

Due to the continuing smoke from the Horseshoe 2 Fire it is expected that the air quality in southwest New Mexico will continue to be in the unhealthy for sensitive groups range (orange AQI) on Thursday. We might see less smoke in the eastern parts of the study area but if the fire remains active, areas close to the burning will be impacted more.

Afternoon winds look to be an issue this afternoon for fire danger as well as for some blowing dust in areas with highly erodible soils. Below are RUC forecasted winds at 6 pm.

There was a little haze this morning in Las Cruces. I smelled smoke and saw some elevated smoke layers. The photo below was snapped at 8:37am looking at the Organ Mountains.
Hysplit predictions from the Horseshoe2 fire show the west-southwest flow carrying the smoke across Hidalgo, southern Grant and Luna counties today. Trajectory colors are 500 (green), 1500 (blue), and 4000 (red) meters above the ground. The trajectories start at 15 UTC (9 am MDT) and are shown every 3 hours till tomorrow morning at 6 am. Fire locations are from the NOAA HMS product at 10:30 am today.The map below shows a view looking down on the Horseshoe2 Fire toward the east.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15

Air Quality Alert for Wednesday. Please read the Air Quality Alert that includes SW New Mexico.

Due to smoke from the Horseshoe 2 Fire it is expected that the air quality in far southwest New Mexico will continue to be in the unhealthy/very unhealthy/hazardous range on Wednesday. 
Particulate concentrations collected in Las Cruces yesterday and this morning are much lower than yesterday. The graph below shows PM2.5 from the past 24-hours.

Winds from the Deming profiler shows northwesterly winds with a change in direction from the northeast between 9 and 10 am this morning. Winds aloft remain westerly.

Today's wind pattern forecast shows southwest winds in the Bootheel and northwest in the lowlands above I-10. Below is the RUC foreacst for 6 pm today.

I'm looking at the next four days (Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun) for wind to affect fire activity and wind blown dust along the border. Below is the 12Z run of the 80-km GFS surface wind forecast at Lordsburg.

 Smoke started to settle in Las Cruces around 7 pm tonight. I snapped this photo at 8:39pm.
At 7pm GOES shows the smoke plume drifting east northeast with significant horizontal dispersion. The green vectors are from the 00Z NAM run at 700mb and the blue shows KEPZ reflectivity. A significant amount of smoke came in from the Monument Fire along the Arizona/Mexico border south of the Horseshoe2 plume.
The moon rise over the Organ Mtns tonight was impressive.