Smoke, and air quality in Springerville, AZ

As we have seen from maps over the last couple of weeks, the smoke from the wildfires in Arizona is being produced, if not in unprecedented amounts, at least in huge quantities that is affecting residents far and wide.

Even though the evacuation order for Springerville and Eagar has been lifted, Chris Sexton, Apache County health director, said the smoke problems may continue for weeks.

Because of the health problems associated with smoke from the Wallow Fire, Apache County Public Health Services District and the Emergency Operations Center warns residents of Eagar and Springerville that it would be best not to return to their homes until the concentration of smoke diminishes.

The link above references the web site for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, where data from a new air quality monitoring station in Springerville is available. Here is an image from the site where they display readings for PM 2.5 (more info), which is Particulate Matter smaller than 2.5 microns, particles of smoke so small that they can only be seen with an electron microscope:

Springerville PM2-5 chart from web site
Springerville PM2.5 chart from AZ DEQ web site

I was intrigued that the data went off the chart every day, so I downloaded the raw data and ran it through Excel. Click the chart below to see a larger version.

 

Springerville PM2-5 chart Excel
(Click to enlarge) Springerville PM2.5 chart. Raw data from AZ DEQ.

The chart at the AZ DEQ web site only goes up to 500 ug/m3, but the actual data for Springervilles exceeds 589 ug/m3 for the last four days, the only data available for Springerville at the web site. On June 10 it maxed out at 1,139. By the way, “ug/m3” stands for micrograms per cubic meter of air.

During that same four-day period, the PM2.5 levels at Prescott never exceeded 20, and at Flagstaff the maximum recorded was 30.

The AZ DEQ web site appears to reference a ug/m3 level of 40 as being the U.S. EPA 24 Hour National Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). On June 10 the maximum reading at Springerville was 28 times the maximum for the standard.

I don’t think the AZ DEQ is intentionally hiding the extreme nature of the air quality in Springerville. It is likely that when they designed the web site they didn’t expect the readings to ever exceed 500.

So far today at 3:40 p.m. MT, the maximum PM2.5 reading in Albuquerque, NM has been 68.

Below is today’s map showing the distribution of wildfire smoke across the U.S. and Canada. The red dots are fires, while the smoke is green (thin), yellow (moderately dense), and purple (dense).

Map of smoke from wildfires, June 10, 2011

Smoke map, 1545, 6-10-2011
Map of smoke from wildfires, 3:45 p.m. MT, 6-10-2011

The map shows smoke created by wildfires. It appears that the southwest and south portions of the United States are affected by smoke, with much of it coming from the Wallow fire in Arizona, fires in Mexico, and others in Louisiana, east Texas, and Arkansas. The states of New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma and Texas are being hit the hardest.

The red dots are fires, while the smoke is green (thin), yellow (moderately dense), and purple (dense).

Map of smoke from wildfires, June 6, 2011

Wildfire smoke map June 6 2011
Wildfire smoke map, updated at 12:15 p.m. MT, June 6, 2011. NOAA

The map shows smoke created by wildfires. It appears that the eastern two-thirds of the United States is affected by smoke, with most of it coming from the Wallow fire in Arizona. The states of New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and parts of Oklahoma and Texas are being hit the hardest.

The red dots are fires, while the smoke is green (thin), yellow (moderately dense), and purple (dense). The Wallow fire in southeast Arizona is responsible for much of the smoke in the central United States.

 

Map of smoke from wildfires, June 5, 2011

Smoke map 1345 6-5-2011
Wildfire smoke map, 1:45 p.m. MT, June 5, 2011. NOAA

The map shows smoke created by wildfires. It appears that the states of New Mexico, Colorado, and parts of Wyoming, Arizona, and Nebraska are being hit pretty hard.

The red dots are fires, while the smoke is green (thin), yellow (moderately dense), and purple (dense). The Wallow fire in southeast Arizona is responsible for much of the smoke in the central United States.

(Update: on June 6 we posted an updated smoke map.)

Wallow fire update, 9:30 p.m. June 4

 

Wallow and Horseshoe 2 fires satellite photo smoke 1932, 6-4-2011
Smoke from the Wallow and Horseshoe 2 fires, photographed by NASA weather satellite at 7:32 p.m., MT June 4, 2011. Notations added by Wildfire Today. Click to enlarge.

Judging from the smoke in the satellite photo above, both the Wallow and Horseshoe 2 fires were extremely active Saturday afternoon.

Map of Wallow fire, data 1450 6-4-2011
(Click to enlarge.) Map of the Wallow fire, showing new heat (the red squares) detected by satellites at 2:48 p.m. MT June 4. An earlier perimeter, mapped at 12:25 a.m. MT 6-3-2011, is in red. MODIS/Google

The imagery in the map of the Wallow fire was obtained at 2:48 p.m. MT Saturday. It is very likely that the fire spread significantly between that time and dark on Saturday.

Joe Reinarz Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team has assumed command on the north side of the fire. The Eastern Arizona Type 2 team will now command the south side of the fire.

There has been no update from the incident management team on the size of the fire since this morning; they are still calling it 140,000 acres, and there is no report on the containment percentage.

A call center has been established by the White Mountain Joint Information Center for information, including evacuations, regarding the Wallow fire. Their phone number is (928) 333-3412, and their web site is 593.orgInciWeb is another source.

Our earlier report on the Wallow fire, from Saturday morning June 4.

Our report on the Horseshoe 2 fire, Saturday morning, June 4.

And here is Sunday morning’s, June 5, report about the Wallow and Horseshoe 2 fires.

Monday, June 6, report on the fires.

Tuesday, June 7, report on the fires.