GBUAPCD Air Blog

Dust and smoke issues in the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District

Archive for March, 2011

Map of New 2011 Prescribed Burn Locations

Posted by admin on March 23, 2011

Click on the image below to view (or right-click to open link in new tab or window) an interactive Adobe PDF map with the locations of the new 2011 prescribed burns for which Smoke Management Plans (SMPs) have been submitted.  Approved new SMPs are posted on the left of the Home page.  Once you open the map, click on any of the burn names to be directed to a Google Maps view of the area.  You can then zoom in or out to get a better sense of the location.  This map will be kept current, and the link kept in the “2011 NEW Smoke Management Plans” section in the left margin of the Home page.

Map of New Prescribed Burns

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Center Fire in Big Pine

Posted by admin on March 19, 2011

To keep updated on details of the Center Fire, go to http://news.sierrawave.net/.  While it’s of little consolation to those whose properties were damaged or lost, the bulk of smoke dispersed away from populated areas.  A southwest wind prevailed throughout.  The smoke, which could very well have had toxic content from the combustion of structural materials, was chanelled mostly up towards Westgard Pass along Hwy 168.  The plume could be seen from Bishop getting considerable loft and appearing to arc over Black Mountain.   Here is a closer perspective from a local landmark.

Center Fire, 3/18/2011 5:12 PM

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Asian dust is a possibility

Posted by admin on March 18, 2011

The theory of long-range transport of windblown dust is regaining credibility as to causing or contributing to the recent haze.  From March 11-14, 2011, dust blew off a western China desert.  

March 18, 2011 – Dust storm in Taklimakan Desert, Western China

Upper air stream lines can be traced from that source up across the Bering Strait and then down around the low pressure cell, shown in the previous post, and into southern California.

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Taste of the Central Valley?

Posted by admin on March 18, 2011

Monitors throughout the valley are showing a definite increase in particulate matter concentrations as a result of the haze that settled in starting yesterday afternoon.  If you read  yesterday afternoon’s post, there was a suggestion that it might be long-range transport from an enormous north African dust storm.  That theory has been retracted, as that event was on March 3, 2010.  More likely is that the general airflow, as shown in the model below, is transporting Central Valley pollution over the Sierra. 

The model starts today and projects out for a week.  The reddish hues are low pressure troughs and the blues are high pressure ridges.  The pattern seems to hold for a few days, so clearing may be gradual.  The picture below is from a webcam west of Little Lake, looking north at the haze spanning the Sierra Crest from west to east.

Bald Mountain webcam view, 3/18/2011

This Google Earth image shows the Bald Mountain webcam location and approximate view angle.  A link to a series of Sierra webcams is posted on the left.

Bald Mountain webcam location

An air quality website, http://www.airnow.gov/ posted the image below that shows development this morning of a (yellow) area of moderate, combined PM2.5 and ozone, air quality index (AQI) that corroborates these observations.  See website for definition of “moderate” AQI.

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Mystery haze settles in

Posted by admin on March 17, 2011

Just after noon today, District staff took photos from Aberdeen (composite panorama below) of haze building up over the Sierra and starting to settle into the Owens Valley.  Inquiries were made to the state Air Resources Board and San Joaquin Valley APCD’s meteorologists and smoke management coordinators.  No known prescribed burns or wildland fires could be causing this visibility impact. 

Sierra Panorama from Aberdeen Thursday, 3/17/2011, 12:30 PM

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Bull burn causes highway closure

Posted by admin on March 15, 2011

At 11:32 on Saturday, CHP closed U.S. 395 for about 15 minutes because of the smoke impact from the Bull burn.  Below is an article in today’s Inyo Register (apologies for the image bleed-through from the opposite side). 

The District investigated what wind direction prevailed when the main portion of the burn was ignited.  A meteorological station located in the Meadow Creek area (D5754 Location) showed that there was a light SSE to ESE wind at ignition around 10:15-10:30 AM (D5754 2011-03-12).  This was an acceptable direction under which to start.  Unfortunately, at about 11:00 AM after the burners were already committed to the larger area, the wind shifted to from the NW and soon created the situation shown here. 

The burner had properly obtained a spot weather forecast for the ignition from the National Weather Service’s Las Vegas Fire Weather office (Bull Spot Weather 2011-03-12).  The prediction of light upvalley (south) winds seemed to be materializing.  Waiting until after 10:00 AM to start the main burn was appropriate because that was the time the forecast said the overnight inversion would break up and allow “Very Good” smoke ventilation. 

Inyo Register, Tuesday, 3/15/2011

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Eyes on Bull burn Saturday

Posted by admin on March 14, 2011

On Saturday, blacklining was performed around trees and bushes on the north side of the Bull burn.  This allowed the burners to observe where smoke was traveling before igniting the 40-acre field.  Even a Great Blue Heron was overseeing this stage.  Here, a desired south breeze was taking the smoke away from the nearby highway and Bishop residential areas.

Smoke during Bull blackline/test burn Sat, 3/12/2011 9:53 AM

No more than a light breeze ever developed so the plume of the main burn went pretty much straight up and got very good lift, as can be seen from the photo below from the Meadow Creek area.  Despite a mild odor around town in the afternoon, the Bishop Tribe’s particulate monitors detected little, if any, increase over typical background values. 

Bull main burn Sat, 3/12/2011 11:04 AM

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Bull Burn planned Saturday, 3/12

Posted by admin on March 11, 2011

The DWP-Lacey Bull burn near the Bishop Gun Club is planned for tomorrow morning (see Smoke Management Plan and maps posted on the left).  The range-improvement burn will encompass as much as 67 acres of grass and brush, but only if the proper wind conditions develop.  The burner will start with some blacklining around some trees on the north side of the 40-acre eastern unit.  This will act as a test burn to see if the predicted southerly winds actually come up and to ensure that the smoke will not impact any of the nearby residential areas.

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DWP Winterton Burn last night

Posted by admin on March 9, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, a whirlwind spread the DWP Winterton Burn from the planned Division A for the day into the adjoining Divisions Y and Z (see DWP Winterton Maps link under “2011 Smoke Management Plans).  This unexpected burning had to be managed by DWP and several other crews well into the night.  Much of the extra 400 acres burned was thick stands of tule.   The photo below was taken from U.S. 395.

Winterton Burn 3/8/2011 9:30 PM

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DWP’s Winterton smoke looming

Posted by admin on March 9, 2011

The smoke from DWP’s escaped Winterton Burn by Blackrock looked ominous yesterday at sunset.  The photo below was taken from Redding Canyon Road east of Bishop.  The winds were from the SE for a few hours in the evening but fortunately, they shifted back to the NW at about 10:00 PM.   Without the shift, the smoke impact to Bishop and other communities in the valley would have been much worse.

Winterton Smoke 3/8/2011 5:30 PM

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