August 10, 2012

Extraordinary Asian Smoke versus the Perseid Meteors

Dense smoke from Asian fires has again spread over our region, profoundly degrading visibility.

Here is a MODIS satellite view from earlier today:

The smoke continues into British Columbia and Alberta:

There should be some amazing sunsets in the Northwest tonight from the smoke.  Some of the smoke is mixing down, reducing visibility and air quality near the surface.  Look at the amount of small particles (PM2.5) at the Cheeka Peak observatory on the northwest corner of the Olympics (see graphic below).  You can see the big rise in the number of particles today.

 Yesterday we could see the smoke approaching our region:

The European Center for Medium Range Forecasting successfully predicted this outbreak and suggests that it is not over.  The forecast for today at 5 PM is shown below.  Notice where the burning aerosols come from:

 Here is the forecast for Saturday at 5 PM. Perhaps a slight break, with more on the way.

This summer is clearly the most polluted from Asian smoke since 2003.  It is extraordinary that fires over Asia can have such a profound influence on air quality over the Northwest U.S., many thousands of miles away.

Now the big question is whether this smoke will significantly impact the viewing of the Perseid meteor shower, which hits its peak this weekend.   The sky will be relatively clear of clouds.  The moon rises about 12:30 AM tonight and an hour later the next day.   So take a look outside just after midnight if you feel lucky.  Sound like something Clint Eastwood would say.

Announcement: Columbus Day Storm 50th Anniversary Gala at the UW: Oct. 11, 7:30 PM

On Thursday evening, October 11 at 7:30 PM, the UW will host a gathering to review and remember the 1962 Columbus Day Storm (October 12th will be the 50th anniversary).  I will discuss the major aspects of the storm and windstorm chronicler Wolf Reed will tell even more.  The Mt. Hebo radar dome broke apart that night as winds gusted above 150 mph, and we will have an eye witness account.  And there will be time for your comments, questions, or stories.  Steve Pool of KOMO TV will MC.  This meeting should be great fun will take place in Kane 120 on the UW Seattle campus.  You need to register for this if you want to go, since I expect it to fill.  To do so, go here.  The gathering is free, but the expenses are being covered by my research fund, so any contributions to offset the costs are very welcome. 

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