77ºF

Poor air quality advisory for Jacksonville

African dust and heat is smothering our fresh air

Red areas mark the worst concentration of dust.
Red areas mark the worst concentration of dust. (wjxt)

Sunday began with moderately poor air quality but heat and dust will combine to make for another bad breathing day.

An air quality advisory was issued Saturday evening because particles of dust are so thick the air is unhealthy for sensitive people.

The mineral particles in the sky will make the air quality worsen through the peak heating this afternoon but should not reach the the worst levels we say Saturday in the red zone.

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

The air will become worse in the afternoon as the heat builds. The fact dust has been confined over the southeast has resulted in stagnant air coloring the sky with gray overcast haze.

What do the dots mean?

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Yellow circles air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

A monitoring site near Oceanway had alarming red levels Saturday which means everyone could experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

Bad air days are rare in Jacksonville occurring just 5 times in 2019 far cleaner compared to Los Angeles which had 108 days.

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Why so dusty?

It is incorrect to call this haze a dust storm. The particulates are microscopic grains of dust lofted over a mile into the sky from the deserts of Africa. Tropical waves carry the suspended particulates eastward across the Atlantic on a cushion of stable warm air. This happens every 3-5 days during June through August but this one is unique because its unusually optically thick. The particles typically fallout over the eastern Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico dumping grounds. Not this one which is the most intense in modern satellite tracking records.

It gets better.

The winds will scrub the particulates Monday which should improve breathing.

Until then choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.

Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors and wait until air quality is better next week.

And monitor the frequent air fluctuations at https://www.airnow.gov/?city=Jacksonville&state=FL&country=USA

Orange areas are worse than yellow. By Monday moderate air quality levels return over Florida and Georgia.
Orange areas are worse than yellow. By Monday moderate air quality levels return over Florida and Georgia. (.)

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