Eagle’s Eye in the Sky

PYROCUMULUS+spotted+near+the+Butte+Fire+in+Mokelumne+Hill%2C+California.%0A

COURTESY OF ANDY ROST

PYROCUMULUS spotted near the Butte Fire in Mokelumne Hill, California.

Wildfires are having a big influence on our present weather. At the time of this writing, there are three big wildfires in

SNC STUDENT KIM OYERVIDES and family rescuing displaced horses during the Butte Fire.
COURTESY OF KIM OYERVIDES
SNC STUDENT KIM OYERVIDES and family rescuing displaced horses during the Butte Fire.

California; the Valley, Butte and Rough fires. Not only are the fires driving people from their homes and torching trees and other infrastructure in their wake, they are also impacting the air quality in our region. The air quality index measure how clean or polluted the air is, and has an index that ranges from 0-500. The higher the value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health risk.

The average air quality of the first two weeks of September was moderate with the worst air quality thus far occurring on September 14th, when the air became unhealthy for more sensitive groups of people- those with heart or lung disease, the elderly, children and teenagers should be wary of staying outdoors for too long in these conditions. To limit the effects of air pollution on the human body, try to take more breaks and engage in fewer activities. Asthmatics should be especially careful and diligent in following their asthma action plans.  When the air quality index is at the unhealthy stage, try to reschedule outdoor exercise or move indoors. To get up to date air quality information, visit www.airnow.gov.

FIGURE 2 displays temperature and barometric temperature over time.
FIGURE 2 displays temperature and barometric temperature over time.

A review of conditions in the Incline Creek Watershed shows the average temperatures are around 60F. Slight fluctuations in barometric pressure (the weight of the air above) from September 2-3 correlate with a decrease in temperatures (see Figure 1). This illustrates the relationship between pressure systems and our weather. Once the high-pressure system off the coast of California loses strength, we can expect to see cooler temperatures and more precipitation.  

         For the next two weeks we can expect fire precautions to remain high as conditions are still extremely dry. The current soil moisture (a measure of how much water is in the soil) at our weather station has dropped to below 3 percent. Temperatures are expected to cool as we move further into the fall season.