Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yesterday's Air Quality Was Briefly Bad, But Pioneer Day Was Worse

If you were out and about yesterday morning just after the frontal passage, you may have gotten a mouth or eye full of dust.  Visibility was low, the sky grey, and the mountains partially or even fully obscured at times.

Looking east at the dust obscured Wasatch Range from the University of Utah at 10:25 AM 27 July 2015
Observations from our mountain meteorology observatory on the east side of campus near the mouth of Red Butte Canyon show the pronounced spike in PM2.5 that occurred during the dusty period, with a maximum of around 45 ug/m3.

Now here's what's interesting.  If you thought yesterday was bad, Pioneer Day was worse if you were in an area that was affected by the fireworks.  The PM2.5 trace below is from the DAQ sensor at Hawthorne Elementary, just south of Liberty Park.  You can see the bump in PM2.5 concentration yesterday morning to a maximum of around 18 ug/m3 (the DAQ observations are hourly averages, which results in a lower peak than seen in the higher frequency data from out mountain meteorology lab), but if you go back to the evening of the 24th (Pioneer Day), the peak is much higher, reaching 47 ug/m3.  That peak was likely produced by the Liberty Park fireworks.  
Source: DAQ

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