Thanksgiving weekend weather pattern brings air quality concerns to DC area

While high pressure has been providing the D.C. area with a stretch of quiet weather, the air quality is starting to become a problem.

The weather pattern will likely bring an increase in poor air quality, as an extended period of high pressure with light-to-calm wind and above-average temperatures moves in.

This leads to a stagnant pattern, where light wind and warmer air trap pollutants. Those five major pollutants are ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

The air quality index in the D.C. area will be in the moderate range this Thanksgiving. While most of the population won’t notice any difference, folks who are more sensitive to air pollution may find it slightly more difficult to breath than normal.

North of the Maryland border, the air quality will be orange, which means sensitive groups such as those with asthma problems, heart or lung disease may see health effects from the higher Air Quality Index. Air Quality Alerts are in effect for York, Lancaster and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh.

The Air Quality Index forecast for Nov. 24, 2022. (Courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

The good news is a more active weather pattern Friday into the weekend, with a few rain chances and increasing winds will return the air quality back to a safe range across the Mid-Atlantic.

The Thanksgiving weekend weather pattern serves as an important reminder that even in the cooler weather season, air quality can be a concern.

Historically, June and July are the two months with the highest concentration of air pollutants in the D.C. area due to light wind and above-average temperatures.

Ozone concentration trends by month noted over the last two years in the DMV. (Courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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