Smoke from Mexico brings hazy sky

April 16th, 2013 at 3:40 pm by under Weather

It’s that time of year again when farmers in Mexico begin clearing land for agricultural purposes by burning brush and trees.

When we have a deep and persistent southerly flow, that smoky air is blown all the way to Texas, creating hazy conditions and decreasing air quality.  Sometimes the smoke is so thick you can smell it.

Here is this week’s Air Quality Forecast from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Below you will also find more information about this form of pollution called PM or “particulate matter.”

Air Quality Index

Click here for a map showing “particle pollution” and the current PM-2.5 levels.

Click here for the current Air Quality Index.

Tuesday 4/16/13
Smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America should coover most of the eastern two-thirds of the state and should raise the daily PM2.5 AQI into the “Moderate” range over most of this area and possibly higher at a few locations, mainly along and east of a line from Sanderson to Abilene to Gainesville. Winds may be high enough to cause blowing dust in parts of far West Texas, which could possibly raise the daily PM10 AQI into the “Moderate” range in the El Paso area, with highest concentrations this afternoon and into the early evening. Elsewhere in West Texas, moderate winds and lower background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.

Wednesday 4/17/13
Winds may be high enough to generate intense blowing dust in parts of far West Texas and the Panhandle and could raise the PM10 AQI to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” in the El Paso area, to “Moderate” or possibly higher levels in the Lubbock area, and to “Moderate” levels in the Midland-Odessa area with highest concentrations in the afternoon and into the early evening. Smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America should continue over most of the middle of the state and will likely raise the daily PM2.5 AQI into the “Moderate” range over most of this area and possibly higher at a few locations, mainly along and east of a line from Sanderson to Vernon and along and west of a line from Galveston to Sherman-Denison. Elsewhere in the state, moderate winds and lower background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.

Thursday 4/18/13 Outlook
Smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America should continue over coastal areas of South and over most of East Texas and will likely keep the daily PM2.5 AQI in the “Moderate” range over much of this area, as a cold front pushes the smoke out of the state by the end of the evening. Winds may be strong enough to generate blowing dust in parts of far West Texas and the Panhandle but the intensity and duration are not likely to be enough to raise the PM10 AQI beyond the “Good” range. Elsewhere in the state, moderate winds and lower background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.

Friday 4/19/13 Outlook
Moderate winds and low background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range statewide.

AIRBORNE PARTICULATES

Particle pollution (also called particulate matter or PM) is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small, they can only be detected using an electron microscope. Particle pollution includes inhalable coarse particles, with diameters larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers and fine particles, with diameters that are 2.5 micrometers and smaller. How small is 2.5 micrometers? Think about a single hair from your head. The average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter — making it 30 times larger than the largest fine particle. These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Some particles, known as primary particles, are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. Others form in complicated reactions in the atmosphere of chemicals such as sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides that are emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles. These particles, known as secondary particles, make up most of the fine particle pollution in the country.

This information is updated hourly. All times shown are Local Standard Time.

Click here for a map showing the current PM-2.5 levels.

Click here for the current Air Quality Index.

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