Air Pollution Forecasting In Texas: Scientists Help Us Spare the Air

In the warmer months, you may hear your local meteorologist mention that there is an ozone watch declared for today or tomorrow. An ozone watch means that weather conditions are favorable for higher ozone levels to form in the Houston area. These forecasts are made by meteorologists at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

An ozone watch means that weather conditions are favorable for higher ozone levels to form in the Houston area.

They take into account weather factors like the temperature, rainfall, and wind speed and direction. But TCEQ scientists also have sophisticated tools that allow them to see whether smoke from Mexican or Central American crop burning, or dust from Saharan storms is likely to affect Houston’s air quality.

This short video explains these tools and how TCEQ scientists use them to forecast future air quality.

Why is it important for us to have an ozone watch forecast? There are two things you can do when you hear that there is an ozone watch declared. First, if you or a loved one is sensitive to ozone, you can plan your day to include fewer outdoor activities. Ozone breaks down very quickly when it contacts surfaces like your air conditioner’s air intake, so spending more time indoors means you will have little or no exposure to higher levels. You can also check TCEQ’s real-time ozone map here http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/compliance/monops/select_curlev.pl?region12_cur.gif#map1 to see if ozone levels are high in your part of town.

All of us can use this information to do our share for cleaner air.

Second, all of us can use this information to do our  share for cleaner air. Some actions that you can  take are avoiding extra car trips or using public transportation, turning up the thermostat, and avoiding gas-powered lawn work (always a favorite!). The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Clean Air Action program has even more ways to get involved. Here’s more information: https://www.mysolutionis.com/home/default.aspx