Ground-level ozone forecasts, for years a key predictor of air quality in major U.S. cities, are now available throughout the contiguous United States. NOAA’s National Weather Service, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has extended its operational ozone forecast guidance to 11 western states and expanded the service in six other states, ensuring that the most populous cities throughout the country will have access to the information on a daily basis.
"Poor air quality is a silent killer, responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths each year in the continental United States," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "Weather and air quality are strongly linked. Temperature and lack of wind can create and trap harmful ozone where we work and play. Our ozone forecasts will enable city and state air quality managers to look ahead, see trouble brewing, and issue next-day alerts for poor air quality."
Hour-by-hour ozone forecasts, through midnight of the following day, are available online, providing information for the onset, severity and duration of poor air quality for more than 290 million people from coast to coast.
“NOAA’s expanded forecasting guidance gives state and local agencies another important tool for bringing air quality information directly to citizens,” said Bob Meyers, EPA’s principal deputy assistant administrator for air and radiation. “Air quality forecasts help Americans across the country reduce their exposure to pollution and lead healthier lives."
States added to the expanded ozone forecast area are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, and the western portions of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
Established in 2004 in several northeastern states, the program to predict air quality has been built by a team of NOAA and EPA scientists who develop, test and implement improvements in the science of air quality forecasting for real-time predictions. National Weather Service’s weather forecast models drive simulations of atmospheric chemical conditions using pollutant emissions and monitoring data provided by EPA. Twice daily, supercomputers operated by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction produce ground-level ozone forecasts, which are available on National Weather Service and EPA data servers.
NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.