DEQ Resuming Air Quality Alerts

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to Resume Ozone Air Quality Forecasts via E-mail on Monday, April 15th

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will resume ground-level ozone air quality forecasts in addition to the currently-issued particle pollution forecasts via e-mail on Monday, April 15th. Air quality forecasts will be issued for Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Winchester and Richmond. Forecasts will be issued through Friday, September 27th. If you know someone else who would like to receive these forecasts, please have them sign up to receive the daily forecasts and/or air quality health alerts at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/NewsFeeds.aspx.

DEQ will issue forecasts for the following day by 3:10 pm EDT. An Air Quality Health Advisory will be issued for any region of Virginia where unhealthy levels occur. Beginning April 15th, color-coded air quality forecasts and the current Air Quality Index (AQI) for each area will be available on the DEQ web site at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityForecasting.aspx. Air quality forecasts are also available via an RSS feed at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/lists/?action=rss_list&id=16 and via the EPA AIRNow web site at http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=48&tab=0. Additionally, air quality health alerts are available via an RSS feed at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/lists/?action=rss_list&id=15. Generally, our qualitative forecast accuracy is around 80 percent correct in each location.

The AQI may peak well after 6:00 pm in most areas when ozone is the dominant pollutant. It may peak overnight or in the early morning hours in the Shenandoah National Park. The particle pollution AQI is usually higher than the ozone AQI in the morning hours due to the diurnal pattern of ozone formation. Particle pollution levels may stay elevated all day and/or night whereas ozone levels peak in the afternoon and early evening hours. Animated air quality maps for “North Carolina/Virginia” will be found at http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=48&tab=0. These maps are updated hourly. Maps such as these are also available from weather service data providers such as WSI, Weather Central Inc., and others for on-air use. Television stations are urged to use the air quality maps regularly in conjunction with the DEQ air quality forecasts to inform the public about daily air quality in their area.

DEQ uses a color-code forecast scheme:

  • Code Green indicates good air quality is expected the following day with either PM2.5 or ozone in the healthy range. Air quality is considered satisfactory with little or no risk. 
  • Code Yellow indicates moderate air quality is expected the following day with either PM2.5 or ozone in the moderate range. Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities. 
  • Please note: An Air Quality Action Day will begin at the Code Orange level. A Code Orange Air Quality Action Day indicates unhealthy-for-sensitive-groups air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults and people with cardio or respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities. 
  • A Code Red Air Quality Action Day indicates unhealthy air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults, and people with cardio or respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema should avoid prolonged strenuous outdoor activities. Everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged strenuous outdoor activities. 
  • A Code Purple Air Quality Action Day indicates very unhealthy air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults, people unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), and older adults should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities. Everyone else should limit strenuous outdoor activities. 

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Bill Hayden, Communications Manager, DEQ Public Information and Outreach at William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4447, Mike Kiss, DEQ Meteorologist at Michael.Kiss@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4460,, Kristen Stumpf, DEQ Meteorologist at Kristen.Stumpf@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4414, or Dan Salkovitz, DEQ Meteorologist at Daniel.Salkovitz@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4404 (usually 6:30 am-3:15 pm).

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