First Alert Weather In-Depth: Air Quality Alert in place Friday

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Another great day of weather here in Western New York, but this time around we have an Air Quality Alert in place with the chance of a drop in air pollution.

This is thanks to the lake breeze that has set up. We went over how the lake breeze sets up yesterday, so let’s get into how the lake breeze will contribute to our drop in air quality. On a normal day in the atmosphere, you have the warmest of the air toward the surface while the farther you move up the temperature drops.

However, the lake breeze is pushing in cooler temperatures along the lakeshores of Lake Ontario and the surrounding areas. This cooler air creates what is known as an inversion. An inversion is where we have relatively cooler air at the surface than what is above.

This creates a layer of stable air in the atmosphere near the surface, which does not allow air to rise above that inversion layer. This has effects on pollution. On a typical day, pollution from your car exhaust or factory smokestacks just rises into the atmosphere.

However, with the inversion layer in place, just like air, the pollution can not rise above the inversion layer, which will then remain near the surface dropping air quality. We are not expecting a significant drop in visibility with this setup, but a drop that could create some breathing issues for those most affected can be possible.