Summer to fall, no break from Valley’s dirty air … yet

640px-California's_Central_ValleyOn Nov. 8th I posted: “Meteorological reporting-related phraseology obfuscates” and, in that entry, I wrote that the expected high temperature for Fresno, California for Monday, Nov. 11th was 80 degrees. I suggested that this high a temperature for Fresno for this time of year is way too hot.

I also discussed Air Quality Index or AQI for Nov. 8th and that in Fresno the AQI was estimated to be 85 and that 97, was the expected AQI for Kings County to Fresno’s south.

Well, it turns out Fresno’s high temperature for the 11th was 76. The AQI of 117 (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups), on the other hand, was the Valley’s highest reading for particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller (PM 2.5) which is not good. PM 2.5 can penetrate lungs and can lead to respiratory and heart impairment. (See: “Can PM 2.5 lead to early mortality?”).

Meanwhile, San Joaquin Valley counties like Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare fared only little better with AQI’s ranging from 99 (Moderate) in Kings, Merced and Tulare to 105 (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in Madera, PM 2.5 being the pollutant of concern in all counties mentioned.

In conjunction with this on Nov. 7th the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued its first-of-the-season wood-burning bans for the counties of Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Kings. Similar prohibitions were in effect on Nov. 10th in Kings County and in portions of Fresno and Kern counties. Three days later, for today, it is more of the same; this time for Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties and for the portion of Kern County in the Valley.

What’s more, when PM 2.5 pollution levels are expected to exceed 30 micrograms per cubic meter of air, wood-burning is prohibited. Beginning in Nov. 2014, that threshold lowers to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Next year I would expect more such wood-burning restrictions to be in effect.

Furthermore, in “Meteorological reporting-related phraseology obfuscates,” pointed out also were wind speeds related to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The news accounts on this that I saw reported sustained wind velocities as high as 190-195 miles per hour with gusts of over 200 miles per hour.

In The Fresno Bee editorial, “Haiyan reveals threats faced by island nations,” it was opined that not only was the Philippines’ typhoon the strongest to hit that island nation, but that predictions were matched in that regard also.

As it may relate, 2013 is shaping up to be the driest year on record in Fresno County with only 2.32 inches of rain recorded since Jan. 1st. 1917 was the previous driest year with 3.91 inches of rain recorded, according to Mark Grossi in an Earth Log blog report at The Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog.

This begs the question, “… Is there an air pollution-atmospheric connection?

Expected is a slight warm-up in the area over the next few days.

– Alan Kandel