Earth Log

Earth Log: Already 16 good-air days in August

Now for the good news: We've already had the best August on record since I started following air quality closely in 1995. 

Every year since the mid-1990s there have been more dirty-air days than clean-air days. Not this time. The clean-day count was 16 early this week.

To clarify, I'm referring to days when the ozone in the San Joaquin Valley's air does not exceed the federal eight-hour health standard.

I usually just count the good days at this time of year. There are not many.

How can you check for yourself? The California Air Resources Board web site carries a graphic with little red squares showing you the bad days. Mostly, the Valley's list looks like a bloody mess. 

But July wasn't quite as bad as usual. And now even if the Valley has exceedances every day until Sunday, it's still a memorable August.

What's going on? It could be a combination things. Valley air leaders often tell me that the air-quality rules are beginning to show results.

Meteorologists tell me the air seems to be moving and mixing a lot. Ozone needs sunshine, heat and only light breezes to move around.

Whatever it is, let's hope it keeps going next month.