Have you heard? The ridiculously resilient ridge of high pressure is back.
We’re talking over the U.S. west. It’s been parked here for quite a while. It’s a familiar refrain.
Regarding the characteristic dry spell and unseasonably warm temperatures, as is usual, tied to this high-pressure center is stagnant air in California’s Central Valley and, tied to that is pollution.
The air at times, in fact, has been unhealthy for everyone; not just for those individuals with sensitivity – the elderly, children and people with existing respiratory and other health conditions – to such.
Here is some of what’s being said about this ridiculously resilient ridge.
From a report in The Fresno Bee:
“The gray air that is hanging over the central San Joaquin Valley is unfit to breathe.
“Air pollution on Wednesday reached levels high enough to cause a ban on wood burning for the day and evening from Fresno south to Bakersfield.
“Air quality on Thursday is expected to be unhealthy for everyone in Kings County, where burning will be banned again. In Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties wood burning will be allowed Thursday, but only with the use of clean-burning devices that are registered with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.”
The report in question was published in the Dec. 28, 2017 edition.
Air-quality reporting has become a regular feature of the local broadcast T.V. news. During reports of weather, sometimes uttered by those doing the reporting are ad libs like: “what we need is a good rainmaker to clear out the stagnant, polluted air.” Not those words exactly, maybe, but oftentimes something very similar. In repeatedly hearing the situation explained this way and in hearing similar sound bites over and over and over again, it gets old, at times even, their falling on deaf ears.
Is this the type of disseminated, related information that should be conveyed, though?
Considering the bigger picture, while a temporary air disturbance may provide short-term air relief and temporarily improve air health and, as such, this, to many, might very well be welcome relief, such does not thoroughly, reliably or permanently fix said situation, and once such air disturbance in the form of rain or wind is gone, sure enough the sad, sorry, in this case, contaminated, miasmic, pernicious, polluted air, returns.
So, understanding just what we’re dealing with, would it not be better to frame the matter differently and instead state something on the order of: “if we did less driving, or burned wood less often (irrespective of local air authority wood-burn terms and conditions), or even both, then maybe something on this order would be the best way to get across the message that when air quality is bad, by reducing air-polluting activities, this is the best way to lower the amount of damaging pollution in the air? I mean, wouldn’t it be?!
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District would seem to agree. Here is some of what the air district in an air-district-issued news release had to say on the subject:
“A persistent and strong high-pressure system influencing the Valley this week has caused stagnant conditions and led to unhealthy air quality. … The public is urged to prevent personal emissions by refraining from the use of fireworks, avoiding residential wood burning and decreasing vehicle use. Some options include driving less, refraining from vehicle idling, trip linking and avoiding the use of drive-through services.”
Why this message has not become the standard response, that is, as it has to do with journalists in providing related, pertinent and meaningful comment even more so during T.V. broadcast news-based weather reporting when it includes giving information about the quality of the air, this doesn’t figure. In watching a lot of broadcast news, believe me, it’s not the standard response.
Which brings up my next point of what we as residents of the San Joaquin Valley are ready, willing and able to do to mitigate the pollution in the air that’s been as or more stubborn than the ridiculously resilient ridge itself.
The Triple-R (the other moniker that the ridiculously resilient ridge goes by) is no stranger. We’ve seen it and its effects before.
As to its presence and persistence, I can’t think of a single person who has in some way, shape or form not been impacted by this dome of high pressure. Air pollution being one of those effects, it does not have to be this way at all. All that need be done is to make the effort. Anyone thinking this is too hard a task, to this I say: “Hardly!”
Image above: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
– Alan Kandel