Saturday, September 7, 2013

9/7/2013 Rim Fire Extended Air Quality Report

Rim Fire, Air Quality Resource Advisor Report                            Saturday, September 07, 2013
 Prepared by: Ryan Bauer, Leland Tarnay, and Sharon Grant
Key Points:
  • The fire size has been updated to 252,156 acres and is 80% contained.  About 1,200 acres of growth occurred over yesterday, primarilly within the current perimeter.
  • RH is expected to dropoff steeply and temperatures rise abruptly as inversions break. Haines index is forecasted as 5 today meaning with higher instability, plume dominated fire behavior is likely as is the possibitliy of for spotting.  It will be breezy again across the fire as upcanyon winds are enhanced by slope alignment.  Continually warmer and drier conditons are expected through the weekend.
  • Several more spot fires were detected and contained in Div. K and L. Firing will continue as the opportunity presents itself in the Clavey River Drainage. Division Z will continue direct fireline toward Cherry Lake. Two NPS Wildfire Modules will continue working the eastern side of the fire to  check the spread in the rocks. Firing continues in Branch V along with mop-up along the fires edge. All other Divisions continue mop-up, patrol, and rehab.

Figure 1 Rim fire operations map for 9/7/2013 with infrared perimeter and heat detections from 22:20 9/6/2013 showing location of the continuing firing operation in Div P (blue), direct attack in Div Z (yellow), and continued firing and holding in Divs J and K in the  Clavey River drainage (green).

Figure 2 Rim fire infrared perimeter from 9/6/2013 and satellite image from 09:00 9/7/2013 of visible smoke in the Clavey and Tuolumne River drainages.

Satellite imagery from this morning shows light smoke from the Rim Fire extending north over Pinecrest and Bear Valley (Figure 2). Air quality monitors in those locations reported impacts in the unhealthy for sensitive groups and moderate ranges, respectively, this morning. Smoke impacts were much less than in previous days for Markleeville and Minden; Markleeville reached the unhealthy for sensitive groups range this morning, and Minden remained in the moderate range for all but one hour (figure 4).
Smoke settled into the Clavey and Tuolumne River drainages overnight due to the inversion (Figure 2). Moderate impacts were seen in Tuolumne City, Sonora, Columbia, Greeley Hill, and Groveland as a result, with Tuolumne City seeing the heaviest impacts in the unhealthy range (figure 4).

Figure 3 3-hour average fine particulate (PM 2.5) concentration at six (6) monitoring locations downwind of the Rim fire with associated Air Quality Index (AQI) health hazard ranges and adjectives. All data are preliminary and have not undergone quality assurance review.
Air quality monitoring continues at the two incident base camps. Impacts continue to reach the unhealthy AQI range at Drew Meadow ICP for about 8 hours each day, and at Tuolumne City Camp for two to three hours (Figure 4). Data collection was interrupted at Drew Meadow ICP when the monitor was disconnected from its power supply, but will resume this afternoon.

Figure 4 3-hour average fine particulate (PM 2.5) concentration in the Drew Meadow and Tuolumne City Incident Base Camps with associated AQI ranges and adjectives. All data are preliminary and have not undergone quality assurance review.

Figure 5 air quality monitoring sites in the Rim Fire area with Rim fire infrared perimeter from 9/3/2013.

Table 1 selected air quality monitor data and corresponding AQI rating, meanings, and recommendations with forecast levels for today. Data are preliminary and have not undergone quality assurance review.
Follow the links in the following table to view real-time air quality monitoring data for each site.

24-hour Avg PM2.5
3-hour Max PM2.5
Level of Health Concern


Actions to Protect Yourself
For Sat.
Sept. 7, 2013
Yesterday, Sept. 6, 2013
La Grange*
Greeley Hill
El Portal
Air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no health risk
Yosemite Vly
S. Lk. Tahoe Columbia Carson City
Tuol. Mdws
Air quality is acceptable for most. There may be moderate health concern for a small number of sensitive people.
Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.
Yosemite Vly. S. Lk. Tahoe
La Grange
Tuol. City


Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects.  The general public is not likely to be affected.
People with heart or lung disease, children and older adults should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.  Everyone else should limit prolonged or heavy exertion.
Tuol. City
Bear Valley
Markleeville. Pinecrest
Drew Mdw ICP*
Everyone may begin to experience more serious health effects.
The following groups should avoid all physical outdoor activity: People with heart or lung disease, children and older adults.  Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
Bear Valley

Air Quality Index (AQI) ratings are derived based on the recommendations found in Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials.
* Estimated based on partial or missing data.

Saturday, September 7, 2013
Heavy fuels continued to burn through the night. The heaviest morning smoke impacts were in communities to the northeast and in the immediate fire area such as Pinecrest, Bear Valley, Markleeville, and Minden. Morning smoke was heavier than yesterday in Tuolumne City, Sonora, and Columbia. This morning’s inversion should break around noon. All areas should see their best air quality in the afternoon. Daytime transport winds will be southwesterly to west-southwesterly, likely bringing smoke into the Tuolumne Meadows area, and closer to the Yosemite Valley. El Portal and the San Joaquin Valley should not be impacted. Nighttime impacts similar to yesterday are likely for Minden and possibly further south in Bridgeport and even Lee Vining, continuing into Sunday morning (Figure 6).

Figure 6 2km BlueSky particle model prediction for 16:00 9/7/2013.
Figure 7 2km BlueSky particle model prediction for 07:00 9/8/2013.

Sunday, September 8, 2013
Transport winds begin to weaken some and become more westerly and possibly even northwesterly for a time late in the day. The morning inversion is still forecast to be quite strong, and likely to persist until around noon. Morning smoke impacts in communities within the immediate fire area and south and west of the fire in Mariposa, La Grange, Greeley Hill, Columbia, and Sonora are likely. Pinecrest, Bear Valley, and Markleeville will still see the heaviest morning impacts (Figure 7). All areas should clear for a few hours in the afternoon. By late afternoon and into evening the Yosemite Valley and San Joaquin Valley will likely see significant smoke impacts that will persist into the following morning (Figure 8).
Figure 8 2km BlueSky particle model prediction for 16:00 9/8/2013.

Monday, September 9, 2013
Morning smoke impacts are forecast for the Sierra foothills and central valley, under a strong inversion, from Fresno northward to Sacramento (Figure 9). The model is again predicting emissions from the American and Aspen fires that are not likely to occur on Monday, so, the impacts shown in the Nevada City/Grass Valley area, and those shown east of Merced are not likely to be as heavy as the model is predicting. Afternoon transport winds are predicted to weaken and continue from a westerly direction.  At this point it looks like the Yosemite region, including Yosemite Valley, will see smoke impacts from the Rim fire Sunday evening lasting into Monday. Diurnal winds will likely offer some relief in the afternoon, but may not be enough to return air quality to the good range in most area.
Figure 9 2km BlueSky particle model prediction for 07:00 9/9/2013.
Long Term Forecast:      
Winds will continue out of the west to west-northwest Monday and Tuesday, turning east-northeast at night. Conditions during the burning period will remain hot and dry. Figure 10 shows the burned are in false color to highlight areas where vegetation remains on the landscape within the fire perimeter. Potential for continued emissions exists primarily in the two areas where smoke is visible.
Figure 10 False color MODIS satellite image of the Rim Fire 13:46 9/6/2013 with infrared perimeter.         

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