Wildfire smoke lowering Baton Rouge area air quality
Over the last few days, parts of Louisiana have been dealing with an unexpected increase in ozone formation and therefore lower air quality. It has become poor enough that those with breathing sensitivities may want to limit time outside.
Warm temperatures and mostly sunny skies have increased ozone production throughout the region, and calm winds have allowed pollutants to accumulate in the atmosphere. However, long-range smoke transport is also affecting the region.
Via the winds moving around an upper level ridge of high pressure over the center of the county, this smoke has been transported across the Eastern U.S. from fires in the Pacific Northwest and southern Canada. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality reports the magnitude of the smoke impacts on air quality were slightly underestimated. As of 6pm Wednesday, the air quality index was 115—unhealthy to sensitive groups.
Looking ahead, smoke is expected to linger over the region for at least the next two days, as winds remain light. Any increase of clouds and scattered thunderstorms will reduce ozone production, and keep most AQI levels in the Moderate category. However, mostly sunny skies and light winds are likely to persist. The air quality could even remain an issue through the weekend. By next week, increased rain across the area will allow improvements.
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