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Forecasting Ozone and Particulate

Learn how we forecast ozone and fine particulate matter in Albuquerque.

Why we forecast ozone

The City of Albuquerque forecasts ozone from May 1 through September 30.

Ozone is the primary ingredient of smog. Ozone can irritate our respiratory system and cause permanent lung damage such as reducing our ability to breathe deeply and vigorously. Ozone can aggravate asthma and chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis. Learn more about ozone.

How do we forecast ozone?

Dwayne Salisbury Servicing PM2.5 Sampler

City employee, Dwayne S. services a PM2.5 sampler in Albuquerque.

Forecasting ozone levels uses a combination of meteorology and chemistry as well as an understanding of factors that contribute to ozone formation. For example, ozone levels are more likely to be high from Monday through Thursday than on Sunday. This pattern can be attributed to less traffic and less in the way of industrial operations on Sunday.

Weather forecasting plays the largest role in ozone forecasting. Of all the variables that go into forecasting ozone, weather is the least predictable. The National Weather Service is a great resource and their forecasts are often used as guidance. The most favorable condition for the formation of ozone is a very oppressive upper level ridge of high pressure. Albuquerque spent most of July 2003 under just such a ridge and saw several days of unhealthy ozone levels.

Despite the complexities, ozone forecasts have proven valuable nationwide. Approximately 300 other municipalities are forecasting ozone levels daily. Residents of Albuquerque, especially those folks who are sensitive to pollution, can use ozone forecasts to plan their activities. For example, people with respiratory issues, such as asthma, could avoid strenuous activities on high ozone days.

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