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Health alerts are issued by DEQ when air pollutant levels are measured or estimated to be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

List administrator(s): Dan Salkovitz, Mike Kiss, Kristen Stumpf, Bobby Lute

Smoke discussion, updated Saturday, August 13th

The smoke plume from the Great Dismal Swamp fire stayed further east than expected today, Saturday, August 13th. That spared the Route 460 corridor to Petersburg and most of the metropolitan Richmond area from experiencing Code Orange, Code Red or Code Purple particle concentrations. However, areas that have been affected today include Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Williamsburg/James City County (where thick smoke was reported this morning), the Peninsula down to Hampton and Newport News (where smoke was reported at 3:00 pm), and parts of the Northern Neck. Occasional Code Orange conditions may continue in those areas through today.

For Sunday: Significant and much needed rain is expected in the region Sunday. That should help to mitigate smoke impacts. However, occasional Code Orange conditions are possible in the following counties/cities: James City County, York, Newport News, Hampton, Surry, Isle of Wight, Suffolk and Southampton.

For Monday: As a frontal system moves off the coast, winds will come out of the west or northwest. Areas downwind of the fire location may experience Code Orange conditions. That includes Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Portsmouth, Norfolk and the southern end of the Eastern Shore could experience a period of Code Orange conditions in the early morning, depending on when the winds shift to the west or northwest.

Note that this is not a "one and done" situation. As long as the fire continues to burn and grow, there will be additional days when Code Orange/Red/Purple conditions affect areas downwind of the fire on any given day. Specifically, whenever the winds at the fire location are from the south, southwest, west, east, or southeast, some areas of Virginia may be adversely affected. General smoke information guidelines are provide below:

Health Information
Code Orange: Active children and adults, and people with heart or lung disease (including asthma) should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

Code Red: Active children and adults should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities. People unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), should avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Code Purple: Active children and adults should avoid prolonged strenuous outdoor activities. People unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), and older adults should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities.

High air pollution levels can impair breathing, cause lung damage, coughing and eye irritation and put extra strain on the heart. Air pollution also can aggravate asthma, bronchitis or emphysema.

SMOKE INFORMATION:
Here are some general guidelines for citizens to use in assessing local air quality conditions whenever there is wildfire smoke present:

- If you can smell smoke with no visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Orange range, or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. At Code Orange levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities. People who are active outdoors also should take it easier to limit their exposure to particle pollution.

- If you can smell smoke with minor visibility impairment (1 to 3 miles), air quality levels are probably in the Code Red range, or generally Unhealthy. At Code Red levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities; everyone else should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

- If you can smell smoke with significant visibility impairment (less than 1 mile), air quality levels are probably in the Code Purple range, or Very Unhealthy. At Code Purple levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities; everyone else should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

Dan Salkovitz
Meteorologist
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: (804) 698-4404 Fax: (804) 698-4510
Phone toll-free in Virginia: (1-800) 592-5482 ext. 4404
Work Email: Daniel.Salkovitz@deq.virginia.gov
Other Email: dsalkovi@yahoo.com
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/airquality/
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/air/assessments

From: Dan Salkovitz

Sent: August 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Special weekend discussion regarding Great Dismal Swamp smoke impacts

OCCASIONAL THICK, DENSE SMOKE FROM THE GREAT DISMAL SWAMP WILDFIRE IN SUFFOLK, VA WILL IMPACT COUNTIES ALONG ROUTE 460 FROM SUFFOLK TO PETERSBURG, THEN NORTHWARD TOWARDS RICHMOND AND ALONG THE I-95 CORRIDOR TOWARDS FREDERICKSBURG, TOMORROW, AUGUST 13TH. WINDS WILL BE GENERALLY FROM THE SOUTH AND EAST. CODE PURPLE CONDITIONS (VISIBILITY 1 MILE OR LESS) DUE TO PARTICLES ARE PROBABLE NEAR THE FIRE. CODE PURPLE CONDITIONS (VISIBILITY 1 MILE OR LESS) MAY OCCASIONALLY EXTEND NORTHWESTWARD ALONG ROUTE 460 AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTIES TOWARDS PETERSBURG. CODE RED (VISIBILITY 1 TO 3 MILES) TO POSSIBLY CODE PURPLE (VISIBILITY LESS THAN 1 MILE) CONDITIONS MAY ALSO REACH THE RICHMOND AREA. CODE ORANGE (VISIBILITY 3 TO 5 MILES) TO POSSIBLY CODE RED (VISIBILITY 1 TO 3 MILES) CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE FROM RICHMOND NORTHWARD TOWARDS FREDERICKSBURG, EXTENDING AS FAR WEST AS CULPEPER, ORANGE, LOUISA, GOOCHLAND, AMELIA AND POWHATAN COUNTIES.

ON SUNDAY, A STORM SYSTEM FROM THE WEST WILL BRING SOME PRECIPITATION INTO VIRGINIA WHICH SHOULD MITIGATE SMOKE IMPACTS. HOWEVER, PRIOR TO ANY PRECIPITATION, SMOKE MAY IMPACT MANY OF THE SAME AREAS AS ON SATURDAY.

ON MONDAY, SMOKE MAY IMPACT HAMPTON ROADS, CHESAPEAKE, NORFOLK, PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA BEACH AND THE SOUTHERN END OF THE EASTERN SHORE.

SMOKE INFORMATION:
Here are some general guidelines for citizens to use in assessing local air quality conditions whenever there is wildfire smoke present:

- If you can smell smoke with no visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Orange range, or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. At Code Orange levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities. People who are active outdoors also should take it easier to limit their exposure to particle pollution.

- If you can smell smoke with minor visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Red range, or generally Unhealthy. At Code Red levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities; everyone else should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

- If you can smell smoke with significant visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Purple range, or Very Unhealthy. At Code Purple levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities; everyone else should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

Dan Salkovitz
VADEQ Meteorologist

From: Dan Salkovitz

Sent: August 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Special discussion regarding Great Dismal Swamp smoke impacts

THICK, DENSE SMOKE FROM THE GREAT DISMAL SWAMP WILDFIRE IN SUFFOLK, VA WILL IMPACT COUNTIES ALONG THE VIRGINIA/NORTH CAROLINA BORDER TOMORROW, AUGUST 12TH. WINDS WILL GENERALLY BE FROM THE EAST WHICH MEANS CODE PURPLE CONDITIONS DUE TO PARTICLES ARE LIKELY IN SOUTHERN SUFFOLK AND SOUTHAMPTON COUNTIES. CODE RED CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN SOUTHWESTERN SUSSEX AND GREENSVILLE COUNTY. CODE ORANGE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN BRUNSWICK AND MECKLENBURG COUNTIES. OCCASIONAL CODE ORANGE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN LUNENBURG, PRINCE EDWARD, CHARLOTTE, APPOMATTOX, NOTTOWAY, CUMBERLAND, AMELIA, AND DINWIDDIE COUNTIES.

SMOKE MAY IMPACT A LARGE AREA EXTENDING NORTH AND WEST OF THE FIRE ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 13TH. THAT INCLUDES CENTRAL VIRGINIA (THE TRI-CITIES, AND RICHMOND), NORTHWARD ALONG THE I-95 CORRIDOR TO WASHINGTON, DC, AND NORTHWESTWARD TOWARDS WINCHESTER.

GUIDELINES FOR CITIZENS TO ASSESS LOCAL AIR QUALITY CONDITIONS DUE TO WILDFIRE SMOKE ARE PROVIDED BELOW:

SMOKE INFORMATION:
Here are some general guidelines for citizens to use in assessing local air quality conditions whenever there is wildfire smoke present:

- If you can smell smoke with no visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Orange range, or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. At Code Orange levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities. People who are active outdoors also should take it easier to limit their exposure to particle pollution.

- If you can smell smoke with minor visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Red range, or generally Unhealthy. At Code Red levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities; everyone else should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

- If you can smell smoke with significant visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Purple range, or Very Unhealthy. At Code Purple levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities; everyone else should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

Dan Salkovitz
VADEQ Meteorologist

From: Dan Salkovitz

Sent: August 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Code Orange air quality in the Richmond area as of 3:00 pm, Friday, July 29th

As of 3:00 pm, Friday, July 29th, the estimated Air Quality Index (AQI) in the Richmond area based upon the current ground-level ozone concentrations is in the Code Orange range (http://www.deq.virginia.gov/airquality/). Active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, should limit strenuous outdoor activities through this evening.

DEQ recommends that people take these voluntary steps:
-- Avoid unnecessary car trips. Combine errands.
-- Share a ride or use public transportation.
-- Limit or halt use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment and solvents.
-- Avoid excessive engine idling.
-- Telecommute.
-- Conserve electricity.
-- Avoid burning yard debris or brush.

Dan Salkovitz
VADEQ Meteorologist

From: Dan Salkovitz

Sent: July 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Code Orange air quality in the Hampton Roads area as of 2:00 pm, Friday, July 29th

As of 2:00 pm, Friday, July 29th, the estimated Air Quality Index (AQI) in the Hampton Roads area based upon the current ground-level ozone concentrations is in the Code Orange range (http://www.deq.virginia.gov/airquality/). Active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, should limit strenuous outdoor activities through this evening.

DEQ recommends that people take these voluntary steps:
-- Avoid unnecessary car trips. Combine errands.
-- Share a ride or use public transportation.
-- Limit or halt use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment and solvents.
-- Avoid excessive engine idling.
-- Telecommute.
-- Conserve electricity.
-- Avoid burning yard debris or brush.

Dan Salkovitz
VADEQ Meteorologist

From: Dan Salkovitz

Sent: July 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm