Jul 29, 2014

Unusual Smog in Southland Prompts Fireplace Ban

``This is the first time AQMD has issued this type of order under this program,'' agency spokesman Sam Atwood told City News Service.

Unusual Smog in Southland Prompts Fireplace Ban

Smog agency officials have banned the use of some home fireplaces starting Saturday at midnight, as an unusual smog pattern prompted air pollution warnings in the downtown Los Angeles area and most of the San Fernando Valley.

This is the first time AQMD has issued this type of order under this
program,'' agency spokesperson Sam Atwood told City News Service.

An unusual weather pattern was blamed for the no-burn order, and
credited with giving the Inland Empire fabulously clean air but setting up the
coastal area and valleys for widespread airborne crud.

"It's our first mandatory no-burn order for the affected area,'' Atwood told CNS.
Starting Saturday at midnight and expected to last until midnight Sunday, wood-burning fireplaces cannot be used in the affected areas.

First-time violators could be fined $50, with fines going up to $500
for repeat offenders.

Such "no burn alerts" are common in Northern and Central California but rare in the Southland.

The affected area includes the central San Fernando Valley -- generally
north of the Ventura (101 and 134) freeways, east of the San Diego (405)
Freeway, south of the Foothill (210) Freeway and west of the Glendale (2)

In the L.A. basin, wood fires are banned generally east of Fairfax Avenue, north of Slauson Avenue, and west of the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

People may enter their zip codes here to see if their areas are affected.

Atwood said the Air Quality Management District enacted new air pollution rules that took effect in November, 2011; the rules gave it the power to temporarily idle fireplaces and other wood fires.

Saturday's ban is the first such prohibition under that program, and it includes  artificial logs and wood pellets.

The National Weather Service said a strong inversion layer and gentle
offshore winds will prevail over the Los Angeles basin Saturday and Sunday,
causing dense overnight fog and warm daytime temperatures.

The marine layer is capped by another layer of hot, dry air at an altitude of
under 400 feet above sea level, the NWS said at noon.

That air is 11 degrees warmer than the surface temperatures, and acts like a cap.

"Dense fog formed under the inversion, and it will be slow to clear,''
the NWS warned.

The weak Santa Ana is triggering canyon winds of just 10-20 miles per
hour, just enough to blow air pollution toward Santa Monica Bay, but not
strong enough to blow it farther.

That prompted the South Coast AQMD to issue a smog forecast for air that
can be unhealthy for people in sensitive groups for Sunday in Metropolitan
Los Angeles and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

Air quality is designated "unhealthful for sensitive groups'' when Air
Quality Indices are from 101 to 150.

At this level, active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases,  -- such as asthma and emphysema -- should limit prolonged outdoor exertion, the AQMD warned in its daily smog forecasts.

Greater L.A. is expected to see an AQI of 105 Sunday.

The Riverside, Big Bear and Coachella Valley areas are predicted to have
good air quality Sunday, with AQI levels as low as 40.

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