Hazy Days in Pinedale
Haze obscures the Wind River Mountains on Wednesday, May 16th. View looking at the Winds from the Marbleton area.
by Pinedale Online!
May 16, 2007
What’s causing all this haze?
We were wondering that ourselves, so we checked the national wildfire maps and couldn’t find anything in our area. There are large wildfires burning in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and Minnesota, but they are east of us. There are a couple smaller fires burning in Arizona and California also putting some smoke into the atmosphere.
We called over to the Forest Service, Pinedale Ranger District, and they reported there are no wildfires in our area that they are aware of. They said there are all kinds of possible sources for things to blow in from other areas, including farmers tilling their fields over in eastern Idaho. (Editor’s note: Having just driving down through western Montana through eastern Idaho yesterday-Tuesday, I can verify there is a lot of agricultural tilling going on along the Idaho Falls-Interstate 15 corridor, with dust devils picking up the dirt into the air, and the valleys there are very hazy. So the farmer’s dust blow-in theory seems plausible to us as a possible contributing factor.)
Dave Lipson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton told us here at Pinedale Online today, “There is no real specific point source producing all this haze.” Their best explanation is that this is the result of a post-frontal inversion, several thousand feet high, up to 5,000 feet thick, which is trapping things that normally would disperse with wind. Over time, this kind of an inversion traps all kinds of pollutants including dust, sand, smog, water vapor, smoke, dirt, etc. “With this kind of an inversion, it eventually fills in,” he explained.
Lipson said their office is not aware of any volcanoes erupting, or huge dust storms over in China, that might be putting up particulates into the atmosphere which could be caught in the jet stream and carried across the ocean. He said that can happen and reach us here in the United States. He noted that visibility in the Pinedale area was approximately 5 miles Wednesday afternoon due to the haze. Once the inversion lifts and winds return, the haze should clear out.
Related Follow-up: A reader wrote in on this topic with a forward from someone who was commenting on the lingering haze in Idaho Falls over the past several days. They attributed the haze to two causes: spring plowing on potato fields east of Idaho Falls which lifts dust particles into the atmosphere, and smoke from the wildfires in Arizona which is drifting north. They said according to people with Idaho Falls Air Quality, tests show that there are no harmful particulates in this haze.
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