RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Yesterday was the first day this season when we've had a "code orange" air quality forecast from VDEQ. As we remind those with health issues to avoid strenuous activities during the afternoon we should also take a minute to think about changes over the past 20 years.
Air quality overall has gotten dramatically better. In fact, a few years ago, the EPA made Air Quality Standards more stringent. And they may tighten the standards even more next year. So a code orange today might have been a code yellow a few years ago.
The code orange is a sign of the heat and dryness we've had lately. Sunny, hot days help create ozone. In particular, if you get long strings of dry weather, the pollution tends to build up in the atmosphere. Last summer there were no code orange days. It was one of the "cleanest" years ever. We didn't have any extreme heat last summer AND we seemed to get rain often enough to wash out pollution.
Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any decent chances of rain over the next week or so. Isolated storms, but that's about it.