December 20, 2021
December 2021 saw some regions of the US experiencing record breaking weather patterns with deadly tornados and damaging winds. An Extreme Wind Event on December 14-16, 2021 brought winds up to 100 mph to parts of southern Colorado towns such as Pueblo and Manitou Springs. The strong jet moving across the region combined with mountain wave action produced widespread extreme winds over much of southern Colorado. Intense dust storms, sometimes called a haboob, raced across the dry plains in Colorado and Kansas to produce widespread blowing dust over much of the region.
This past July, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) and partners provided significant updates to the Air Quality Model that NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) uses to provide air quality forecast guidance across the US. Under the revised National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC), the NWS forecasts for air quality now provide 72 hours of guidance on ozone, smoke, dust and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air we breathe. Included with that update was a revised dust model, called FENGSHA ; FENGSHA is an English analog of the Mandarin term for wind-blown dust.