Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hiked Santaquin Peak. "I can't see the other mountains!"

The forecast today was warm and sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. Just a perfect day for a hike. At the top of Santaquin Peak, located on the south end of Utah Valley, we saw a thick layer of brown haze and smoke that filled all the valleys bellow us. It looked like someone had put a lid over Utah keeping the pollution from diluting with the clean air above.
 There must be some stable air mass above us. Sure enough, a glance at this morning's sounding shows a thick stable layer above. It would be pretty difficult to make convective clouds in air like this. That is why we didn't see any clouds in the sky today
 
The interesting thing about this pollution was how much area it spread. Usually we expect to see high levels of pollution near the cities, but even the unpopulated mountain valleys were fumigated with nasty air. This dirty air must have come from somewhere else... and it did. There are several fires in the Northwest. The one shown below is in northern California:

Source: NASA Aqua Satellite, August 31, 2014
And here are some pictures from our hike...
 



 
 




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