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Air Quality Program

Weather and MonitoringA graphic of an 1873 weather map.

The goal of the Air Quality Program is to achieve and maintain good air quality.  Monitoring plays an important part in accomplishing this goal.  Monitoring gives indications of what makes up the air pollution in an area.

Smoke contains particulate matter (particles of dust and soot suspended into the air), or PM.  PM10 is the term for relatively large particles, usually caused by things such as windstorms or traffic on unpaved roads.  PM2.5 is the term for finer particles.

Agricultural Daily Burn Call

Ecology makes a daily burn call to determine whether burning will be allowed.  A weather “model” produced at the University of Washington uses data from dozens of sources and combines them with a computer program to give a useful smoke dispersion forecast, see MM5 Weather Forecasts.  When making a “burn call,” ambient air quality is taken into consideration by using readings supplied by air quality monitors placed throughout the state.  Locations of the monitors are available by accessing Air Quality monitoring site locations.  Agricultural burning is generally allowed if weather conditions are favorable.  Under ideal conditions, smoke will rise several hundred feet, and winds will carry smoke away.  Generally, under high pressure systems, smoke will stay close to the ground.  Wind direction and speed are also taken into account when a burn call is made. High winds (above 15 mph) may hold smoke near the ground, while no wind will prevent smoke from dissipating properly. Even when air quality appears to be good and visibility is good, it may be a poor burn day because we know smoke will not rise and dissipate properly.

The "Burn Team" uses a variety of meteorological tools to make the daily burn call, the MM5 ventilation model, monitoring data, and local observations.  Below is a additional list with links to other websites used during the morning briefing with the meteorologist while making the daily burn/no burn decision.

Other References

Related Agricultural Links

Contact Us for these counties: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties

Contact Us for these counties: Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat and Okanogan counties