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Insider Blog: Why the Coachella Valley sees so many dusty days

We here in the Coachella Valley frequently see days with gusty conditions but also air quality and visibility concerns. The usual culprit for these hazy days is a pollutant known as PM10 (Particulate Matter 10). The 10 refers to the size of the particles in micrometers or microns. PM10 often includes things like small pieces of dust, sand and smoke and can be more than 5x smaller than the width of a human hair.

Credit: California Air Resources Board

Individual grains of sand can be as light as 2 micrograms, or two millionths of a gram. This means it only takes a relatively light wind to lift these particles into the air, and keep them there. This is why if it is gusty overnight, it can be hazy in the morning and why air quality can be poor in the afternoon and evening hours as wind gusts pick up.

The flooding from the storm left a layer of loose sand and silt, a component of soil even smaller than sand. Since this silt is even lighter than sand, it is also easily lifted into the air. The presence of dried mud also contributes to more particulate matter in the air.

On days with poor air quality, you can protect yourself by limiting strenuous activities outdoors, wearing a mask if you're sensitive to particulates, and avoid using swamp/evaporative coolers.

Have you downloaded the 'KESQ First Alert' app yet? It's FREE! Click here.

You'll stay up-to-date with the latest weather videos. In addition, be able to monitor the changing conditions from wherever you are!

Article Topic Follows: First Alert Weather Insider Blog

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Spencer Blum

Spencer Blum joined KESQ News Channel 3 in 2023 as a member of the First Alert Weather Team.


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