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NOAA image of U.S. ozone forecast as of June 21, 2006, at 11 a.m. EDT.June 21, 2006 The NOAA National Weather Service, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, will now provide experimental forecast guidance for ground-level ozone for the western half of the contiguous United States—a total of 17 states from the Plains to the Pacific Coast. This is in addition to the air quality forecast guidance currently available for the eastern half of the U.S. (Click NOAA image for larger view of U.S. ozone forecast as of June 21, 2006, at 11 a.m. EDT. Click here for latest forecast. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"This new forecast guidance will provide accurate projections of ozone levels near the ground, linked to our weather forecast models," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "Weather and air quality go hand-in-hand. Daily weather conditions, such as temperature and wind, play an integral role in creating and trapping harmful ozone where we all work, play and breathe."

Hour-by-hour ozone forecasts, through midnight of the following day, are available online, providing information for the onset, severity and duration of poor air quality for more than 290 million people from coast to coast. This product also serves as a tool that local and state air quality forecasters can use when creating daily air quality outlooks and issuing poor air alerts.

"Air quality forecasts can help Americans reduce their exposure to ozone pollution, which is a special concern for children and people with asthma and other lung diseases," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's office of air and radiation. "This expanded tool will help improve forecasts for cities across the country."

Following several months of testing, the forecast guidance for the western United States will be evaluated for addition to the full suite of NOAA National Weather Service operational products.

"This new experimental guidance expands coverage westward to the Pacific Ocean and will enable additional state and local agencies to issue enhanced and more geographically specific ozone-based air quality warnings to the public," said Paula Davidson, program manager for air quality forecasting with the NOAA National Weather Service.

States included in this experimental expansion are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, and the remaining western portions of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. The eastern halves of these states were included in last year's expansion into the central U.S. Air quality forecast guidance was first implemented into operations for the northeast quadrant of the U.S. in 2004.

The air quality forecast capability is being built by a team of NOAA and EPA scientists that develop, test and implement improvements in the science of air quality forecasting for real-time predictions. NOAA National Weather Service forecast models are used to drive simulations of atmospheric chemical conditions using pollutant emissions and monitoring data provided by EPA. Twice daily, supercomputers operated by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction produce ground-level ozone forecasts, which are available on NOAA National Weather Service and EPA data servers.

In 2007, NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Experimental Guidance for Western U.S.

NOAA Air Quality Guidance (operational)

NOAA/EPA Air Quality Awareness

NOAA Air Quality Portal

Media Contact:
Chris Vaccaro, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 142