/ Is It Smoky Out Here or Is It Just Me?

Here in Minnesota, where I live, we occasionally get haze in the air, normally due to some wildfire somewhere blowing smoke our way. It’s normally something that is pretty newsworthy, though, and people talk about it a lot when it does happen.

At one point this year, there was an advisory to wear masks outside due to the air quality being so bad. This got me thinking: Was this a bad year for smoke in the air?

To answer the question, my colleagues and I of course looked to data. We connected into some National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data, loaded it into Domo, and away we went.

NOAA has stations located all around the U.S., and each of these stations reports on the presence of smoke or haze in the atmosphere for each day. While we don’t have a measurement of the amount of smoke, we do have a boolean for each day for each station and can use that data to try to answer my question.

The first thing we took a look at is below. Here, we have both the number of stations that reported smoke or haze in a given month, as well as the total number of days that any station reported smoke or haze in that month.

As you can see from the card, the number of stations reporting smoke or haze appears to be increasing—but the total number of days with smoke does not necessarily appear to be increasing.

You’ll also notice that three of the months this year are already ranked among the top five worst months in the past few years. So, perhaps we are having larger, more concentrated events that are causing smoke and haze in the air.

I also wanted to see what the year-over-year increase or decrease was, and if the smoke that I noticed this year was localized. This map addresses that:

Simply put: Not everyone’s experience with smoke this year compared to last was the same; while some parts of the country had massive increases in the number of smoke days, others had a much clearer year.

There’s more to come from “Domo on Data” in regards to the weather, and I can assure you it’ll be interesting. So, watch this space.

(For the record, my county was up 50% in the number of days with smoke readings. But as the map attests, other regions were up considerably, as well.)

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