For countless years winters have brought to the San Francisco Bay Area wind and rain and green hills and fresh air
Not this year. Not yet.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
The main factor in the poor air quality, they said, is the relentless dry weather. Normally, particle haze in the Bay Area increases in the winter as residents burn wood in fireplaces. But those fine particles, which can lodge deep into people's lungs, causing respiratory ailments and heart problems, typically are washed out of the air every few days as winter rains come and go.
This year, however, Northern California is on pace for the driest calendar year since 1850, when records were first kept. So smoke from fire places, combined with road dust, soot from buses, trucks and construction equipment, along with other particles from industrial pollution, all build up, growing worse with every passing hour.
Making things even smoggier, wind levels have been low in recent days.
"It's like living in a terrarium. There's no rain and no winds. So we aren't having the normal cleansing effect," said Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in San Francisco.
The agency issued a record 11th straight "Spare the Air" alert for Wednesday, making it illegal to burn wood, manufactured logs or other solid fuel indoors or outdoors in any of the nine Bay Area counties.
It's a little scary how dry it is. The hills look half-burnt already, by the sun.
[from the Marin headlands, looking north towards Mt. Tamalpais in Marin Co]