A cold low pressure center will hang out in our neighborhood for the next several days, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms to the valleys, mountain snowfall (with some chain controls over the higher passes) and very chilly temperatures. For Saturday, cloudy morning conditions could turn into scattered afternoon showers with a high temperature (near 60) that is about 15 degrees below average. Temperatures warm slightly as we head into the work week, but still stay on the cool side of average until we dry out and warm back into the mid-70s by next Friday.

dirty air reno

We’ve been talking about air Quality. Obviously, we’ve all got to breathe, and every time we do, we are exposed to whatever gunk is in the air. Most can handle a certain level of pollution, but when you exercise, work in the yard or do any other strenuous activity, you are pulling in a lot more air and the effects of pollution can be more critical. That’s especially true for those with lung disease, the very young or very old, and those with heart concerns. If you fall into any of those categories, make use of the Air Quality Index (AQI) to help you plan your activities.


The AQI is a color-coded index which gives you an idea how clean (or polluted) the air is, and what health effects the air might have on the population. The EPA has established health standards for concentrations of five different pollutants, and established the AQI scale accordingly. The five pollutants are: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Here in the Truckee Meadows, ozone, carbon monoxide and two grades of particulate matter are measured and reported. The EPA has established health standards for various pollutants, and assigned a color scheme. Anything 50 and below get a green color (good), 51-100 is yellow (moderate), 101-150 is orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups), 151-200 is red (unhealthy for all), 201-300 is purple (very unhealthy), and anything above 300 is maroon (hazardous.)

Burn Code

This is not to be confused with our local burn code, although they are similar and there can easily be some confusion. Our burn code uses AQIs, and also assigns a green color (no burning restrictions) to good air quality and yellow (voluntary cutbacks) to moderate air quality. But the red burn code (no burning allowed) kicks in as soon as the AQI gets above 100.

When I first came to Nevada back in the 80s, Reno’s air quality was quite poor, and we were even on the EPA’s “hit list.”  But aggressive pollution mitigation programs (including the Green, Yellow and Red burn codes) have helped to take us off the EPA’s radar.