State-wide Air Quality Forecasts Are Now Available!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - 2:36pm

The NC Division of Air Quality has improved the way in which air quality is forecasted across the state.  Starting March 1, 2020, the current ozone season, and beyond, we have updated both the scope and detail of our air quality forecasts. Specifically, the scope of our forecasts have now expanded from multi-county forecast regions to the entire state, and the detail of the forecast now goes from those multi-county forecast regions to individual counties (with the exception of the Triad region which is handled by our counterparts at the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection). 

The motivation for this update was to improve the precision of our air quality forecasts. For example, forecast regions represented areas that have had issues attaining the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) sometime in the past. Some of those areas were large and encompassed several counties or more. If there was a localized air quality concern - maybe there was a fire or heavy traffic in one county - then we could only forecast for that entire region, and not the individual counties that made up that region. We wanted to avoid the possibility of over-warning about bad air quality; for example, a county in a certain forecast region may experience Code Yellow or even Code Green air quality on a given day, but if another part of that same forecast region had the potential to experience Code Orange air quality, then the entire region was forecast to be Code Orange. The transition to county-based forecasting removes that limitation, and now allows us to issue more precise forecasts for all people of North Carolina.

Additionally, while most air quality concerns occur within our forecast regions, we wanted to accommodate citizens who live in areas outside of these forecast regions, and who previously did not receive an air quality forecast - and who have asked us over the years about their air quality and/or why they don’t receive an air quality forecast. Now we have the capability to provide this service to all of our citizens on a daily basis. 

You can find the forecast every day on DAQ’s forecast centerEPA’s website, sign up for daily emails on EnviroFlash, or find it on the AirNow mobile app.