Measurement of wind speed and wind direction is important in air quality monitoring. It can help identify the location of the source of the pollution, and also provide a better overall picture of what’s happening in the air.
Wind direction is reported as the direction the wind is coming FROM. For example, if the wind direction is shown as SE, winds are coming from the Southeast. Wind direction is reported in degrees, using a circle of 360. For example, wind direction of 360 or 0 reflects winds coming from the North.
APCD air monitoring stations measure the wind at a height of 10 meters. Wind speed and direction can be different at different altitudes. Additional weather information can be found at the National Weather Service site for: Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, and Lompoc.
Ground-level ozone is considered a regional pollutant since it occurs over a large geographic region, such as Southern California. Santa Barbara County can contribute pollution to areas that are downwind of the county when ocean breezes clean the air along the coast, blowing pollution inland. Just as pollutants in our air travel to other areas, sometimes our air is impacted by pollution from areas south of us. Other times, winds can blow pollution offshore one day, and bring it onshore again the next day.
The U.S. EPA has developed the AIRNow website to provide the public with easy access to national air quality information. The website offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 275 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality websites. Information specific to Santa Barbara County is available at http://www.airnow.gov/