3:27pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

Heat Wave Contributes to Poor Air Quality

Despite predictions that this summer would be milder than usual, Louisville has been experiencing temperatures reaching the mid 90s.  The Climate Prediction Center made the original forecast, and the center still holds that the heat will plateau as the summer goes on.  Ryan Sharp from the National Weather Service says Louisville residents should be thankful for this year’s wet spring.

“Actually it’s helping to keep us a little bit cooler,” Sharp said. “We’re still soaking up and drying out some of the moisture that’s in the soil.  We were talking about that earlier this morning, that if we were browner around here, temperatures would be in the upper 90s to 100 with the heat wave we’ve had.”

These high temperatures have been contributing to air quality alerts for Louisville.  The city is currently classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

“Heat is a major factor,” Matt Stull from the Air Pollution Control Board said. “The main factors though, for the formation of ozone are cloudless skies, winds that calm to the point of almost being still, and then also the amounts of pollution that are coming in.  When you have the combination of all three of those, you’re going to have higher ozone.”

Stull says these readings are earlier than usual.

“Generally we have the bulk of the air quality alerts in July and August, so since we haven’t really hit summer yet, this is early,” Stull said. “But, that can also vary from year to year.  Last year we had a couple of days in April when we saw higher ozone levels and had to issue alerts.”

Stull advises the elderly and those with asthma to limit their activity to the early morning hours to avoid the buildup of ozone during the early to late evening.