dust and smoke are turning colorado's blue skies red. here's where it's coming from
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Dust and smoke blowing in from fires, dry land and construction this spring periodically have turned Colorado’s blue skies red, and air quality experts anticipate more crazy haze in the future as wind scours particles from the arid Southwest.

Nose-level concentrations of tiny, lung-lodging particles hit 24-hour averages as high as 207 micrograms per cubic meter of air Monday afternoon in Colorado Springs. That’s 33% higher than a federal health threshold of 155 micrograms. The level spiked briefly to 422, at a state monitor near Colorado College before sunrise, then quickly dissipated—a challenge for state officials tasked with keeping public health warnings current.

Multiple sources mix, state and federal meteorologists said, as high winds carry roiling clouds. Wildfire smoke from New Mexico, where fires have burned more than 250,000 acres, has risen into high-level air currents. Dust from the bone-dry Four Corners region and other landscapes reached Colorado’s urban Front Range. And exposed grit from the common construction sites, where topsoil has been scraped away, intensifies the wind-churned brew.

Visibility at times decreased to less than five miles, a measure state health officials say residents can use to determine whether air is unhealthy to inhale. From metro Denver south to Trinidad this week, residents periodically could not see the mountains.

Expect more of the same with forecasts calling for higher-than-average heat, red-flag fire risks, and no rain through this week.

And expect more in the future if current climate trends continue, said Jeff Derry, director of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, who since 2002 has been monitoring National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite imagery and dust on mountain snowpack.

“Drought and heat means we’ll probably see more fires. That means more smoke. For dust, with stressed vegetation and less water on landscapes in dust source regions of the Southwest, we should probably expect more dust,” Derry said.

“All the science is pointing towards that. It means decreased air quality. And it means more dust in the mountains on snowpack,” he said. “It is going to melt the snow faster. An earlier snow melt typically means less water later in the summer.”

National Weather Service meteorologists monitoring satellite images have tracked multiple wind-driven plumes that spread across Colorado.

Significant smoke from the New Mexico wildfires that have forced evacuations “isn’t necessarily something people would smell, but it looks hazy” along the Front Range, NWS meteorologist Kari Bowen said. “And then there’s some dust over northwestern New Mexico. And localized dust can lift up. If people live near construction sites, and it’s a little windy, they could see dust that way,” Bowen said. “The landscape can get very dry, which creates the ability at a certain wind speed to lift more of that dirt and carry it as it dries out.”

State health authorities on Monday and Tuesday issued an unhealthy air alert for sensitive people (children, the elderly and infirm) in the Colorado Springs area. Metro Denver air quality deteriorated to “moderate” unhealthy conditions. What residents face varies by location and fluctuates.

“The best thing to do is always keep apprised of air quality in your location,” said Dan Welsh, air quality meteorologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, who characterized the most recent dust-and-smoke storms that started on Sunday as “notable in the intensity for a short duration.”

Colorado residents can check government-run websites (colorado.gov/air quality and airnow.gov) and should “take any health precautions you feel are necessary,” Welsh said.

Medical experts warn of potential “compounding effects” as particulates mix with the ground-level ozone pollution, for which Colorado has been deemed a “severe” violator of federal health standards. Wind also spreads pollen that afflicts residents with allergies.

“You begin to get a lot of chemical reactions,” said Dr. Mark Ereth, an emeritus professor at the Mayo Clinic who serves on boards of air filtration companies and helps guide the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

“We need to look at the concept of our lifetime exposure,” Ereth said.

“The particulates cross into your bloodstream. They’re taken up by your organs. That’s where they introduce inflammation. The inflammation is a source of hardening of the arteries and cerebral vascular diseases,” he said. “We’ll have to modify our indoor and outdoor lifestyles based on air quality. … There’s no question that breathing cleaner air will extend your life.”

The first step to reducing exposure during dust storms is reducing physical exertion and heading indoors, health officials say. Filtering indoor air using air conditioning and other devices can create safe spaces, especially for sleeping.

Face masks that residents amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic also can be used to reduce the amount of particles and pollen you inhale.

“Stay aware of the air quality conditions in your area,” Welsh said. “Know what prevention measures to take to protect yourself.”

2022 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: Dust and smoke are turning Colorado’s blue skies red. Here’s where it’s coming from (2022, May 11) retrieved 11 May 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-colorado-blue-red.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

GM names new CEO for S. Korean unit amid chip shortage

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) — General Motors Co. on Friday named new presidents for GM Korea Co. and the South Korean unit’s R&D unit GM Technical Center Korea (GMTCK) amid the unprecedented global chip shortage. GM has appointed Roberto Rempel, currently president of GMTCK, as president and CEO of GM ...

View more: GM names new CEO for S. Korean unit amid chip shortage

Huawei AppGallery flaw is allowing users to download paid apps for free

The US ban brought Huawei to places that it has never imagined to be. The company has been caught amidst the most intense struggle between US and China. The ban prevents the company from having direct access to US-related software and hardware solutions. It has managed to stay in the ...

View more: Huawei AppGallery flaw is allowing users to download paid apps for free

Woolworths to expand e-commerce offering with 80% stake in MyDeal

The total value of the acquisition deal is expected to come to an enterprise value of AU$243 million.

View more: Woolworths to expand e-commerce offering with 80% stake in MyDeal

Stranger Things 4 spoilers revealed by Netflix Monopoly game

The seemingly neverending wait for a new season of Stranger Things finally comes to an end on May 27th. Stranger Things 4 will be the longest season to date, with each episode clocking in at over an hour. Creators, Matt and Ross Duffer have also hinted that we’ll get ...

View more: Stranger Things 4 spoilers revealed by Netflix Monopoly game

Crypto exchanges face funding dip amid low trading, high taxes and Terra

ETtech Illustration: Rahul Awasthi Mumbai: Indian cryptocurrency exchanges are set to face lower valuations, longer negotiation cycles, and hard bargaining by venture capital firms due to dipping trading volumes, talk of more restrictive tax regulations, and the impact of the Terra Luna collapse on retail investors.Market watchers say at least ...

View more: Crypto exchanges face funding dip amid low trading, high taxes and Terra

Policy framework for data centres ready; to soon go for cabinet approval

ETtech Illustration: Rahul Awasthi New Delhi: The IT ministry, which plans to offer incentives worth up to Rs 15,000 crore under a national policy framework for data centres, will soon take it to the Cabinet for approval, senior government officials told ET.According to a draft of the policy, the government ...

View more: Policy framework for data centres ready; to soon go for cabinet approval

Startups reach out to find jobs for the laid-off

Bengaluru: As layoffs hit the sector amid a funding crunch, investor pressure and efforts to cut cash burn, the tight-knit startup community is stepping up to look out for its own. On Wednesday, when edtech company Vedantu laid off 424 employees, citing “scarce capital” — its second round of job ...

View more: Startups reach out to find jobs for the laid-off

Fashion retailer High Street Essentials raises Rs 40 crore in funding from Stride Ventures

ETtech Illustration: Rahul Awasthi Bengaluru: Delhi-based fashion retailer High Street Essentials, which owns women’s fashion brands, FabAlley and Indya has raised Rs 40 crore in a combination of equity and debt from venture debt firm Stride Ventures.With the latest funding, the fashion house through Indya is foraying into the premium ...

View more: Fashion retailer High Street Essentials raises Rs 40 crore in funding from Stride Ventures

Apple's Long-Awaited AR/VR Headset is Almost Complete

1 killed, 9 injured in S-Oil refinery explosion

Controlling stake in Arm China may shift to little-known entity as chip joint venture’s ownership saga drags on

You can silence a Family’s Member iPhone Alarm with your own iPhone

Kia and Rafa Nadal launch ‘Kia Clubhouse’ initiative to inspire next generation of tennis fans

Spanish Dancer Galaxy Twirls Into View – Dark Energy Camera Captures Celestial Phenomena

Canada to ban Huawei and ZTE and tell telcos to rip out 5G and 4G equipment

Conti ransomware shuts down operation, rebrands into smaller units

Mastercard will soon allow you to pay with a smile

Viral TikTok shows a new iPhone trick that Instagram fans will love

Thai, Japanese animation rooted in nationalism

New emergency warning over two new VMware vulnerabilities

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News