SAN ANTONIO – The overall air quality across South Texas will not be as good on Friday, May 1, 2020. This will be due to higher levels of ground-level ozone in the air. Specifically, the air quality will be at levels deemed ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups."
Who is included in ‘sensitive groups’?
- young children
- the elderly
- those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma
If you or a family member are included in one of these groups, you’re encouraged to limit time spent outdoors on Friday, especially in the afternoon. If you’re not in one of these groups, then you can spend time outdoors without any concern.
Why is ozone higher if less people have been driving?
While it’s true that fewer cars have been on the roads lately due to the pandemic, travel hasn’t stopped completely. Therefore, emissions from vehicles may still be contributing to the overall ozone level. It’s also important to consider that the emissions from some industrial facilities around South Texas can add to the ground-level ozone, as well.
Does air quality affect the spread of COVID-19?
No. There’s no need to be concerned about air quality affecting how COVID-19 spreads from person to person.
How does weather affect air quality?
As a general rule, ozone in the air can be made worse when the weather is hot and sunny (as it will be on Friday). That’s why South Texas usually sees more days with higher ozone levels in the spring and summer.
However, overall air quality can be affected by pollutants other than ozone. For example: Saharan dust...does that ring a bell? You’ve likely heard Your Weather Authority team talk about it before! Dust from the deserts of Africa can be brought over to North America by the trade winds over the Atlantic Ocean. This happens primarily in the late-summer and early-fall, during hurricane season. The very, very fine particulates that compose this dust can lower air quality when plumes of it arrive in South Texas.