WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

I wish I could send you the airnow.gov map forecast of the moment (12 noon). WHAT IS THE REASON RALEIGH AIR IS THE WORST IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW?

Posted April 20, 2008

MIKE MOSS SAYS:     Jane,      The Airnow site has archives where I could look up the observed air quality readings for the day you're referring to (Friday Apr 18, 2008) but does not have an archive of the forecast images. I assume you were seeing Code Orange forecasts for the Raleigh and Fayetteville areas, and judging from your question these must have been among the higher forecast levels in the U.S. -  generally, higher code forecasts are associated with bright sunshine, warmer than normal temperatures, light winds and limited vertical mizing of the lower atmosphere, often due in part to sinking air associated with a slow moving high pressure center over the region. While I don't know the details of the Air Quality forecasts issued by the NC Division of Air Quality on Friday, I do know that general set of conditions was in place on that day across this region (the high at RDU was 86 degrees, 13 degrees above normal and skies were mainly sunny) and we may have been one of the few locations in the country where the entire combination of factors was in place to result in an Orange forecast.

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  • HonestWx Apr 21, 2008

    Jane and Mike, I am one of the Air Quality Forecasters at the NC Division of Air Quality. Weather conditions on Thursday and Friday were much more summer-like than spring. Almost full sunshine, temperatures soaring into the 80's, and very light wind conditions all played a pivotal role in the forecast and observation of Code Orange air quality conditions across large portions of North Carolina. With regards to the AIRNow web site, it may have appeared odd that North Carolina was one of only a few states with Code Orange forecasts. However, most of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states do not officially start their forecasts programs until May 1st. For most of these states, AIRNow reports a default Code Green (50AQI) forecast. In reality, Code Orange air quality conditions were observed up the entire Eastern Seaboard on Friday and even Code Red ozone was observed in Pennsylvania on Saturday. So, North Carolina wasn't alone with poor air quality. -George Bridgers, NCDAQ