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Recent high winds impacting air quality, especially in south SLO County

Oceano Dune
A view of the Oceano Dunes as seen on Highway 1, near the Trilogy housing development on the Nipomo Mesa Thursday morning. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

NIPOMO, Calif. -- Consistent high winds over the past several weeks are impacting air quality on the Central Coast, especially in south San Luis Obispo County.

"We call this year typically our windy season because it's always more windy than other parts of the year, but this season, it seems like it's been especially windy, just non-stop," said Meghan Field, San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Public Information Officer & Air Quality Specialist. "Every day we're seeing high winds, over 18 miles per hour in several parts of our county, and so because of that, we're seeing elevated particulate matter, especially down in the southern portion of our county."

The APCD uses a four-step color-coded system to measure the health status of air quality, ranging from green (good) to yellow (moderate) to orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) to red (unhealthy).

"The Oceano area and the Nipomo Mesa have been experiencing kind of the brunt of the particulate matter in our county, seeing levels up into the moderate range almost daily, and we're also seeing spikes up into that orange level," said Field. "Due to the nature of our south county region, the Nipomo Mesa and Oceano are impacted by the Oceano Dunes, so they do see those high levels of dust, and in other parts of our county, people are experiencing the wind just like in the south county, but we don't have those big open sheets of sand that are causing that dust."

Field added people who are sensitive to poor air quality should always be aware of current conditions, which are being constantly being updated on the APCD website.

"When air quality gets up into that yellow moderate range, or even into the orange, unhealthy for sensitive individuals, we recommend that if you are especially sensitive, if you have those pre-existing conditions, asthma, if you are pregnant, or very young, or elderly, or breathing problems, we recommend that you stay indoors as much as possible during those peak hours, and typically we're seeing those peak hours being around 1 to 6 p.m.," said Field. "Staying indoors, closing exterior doors and windows, just to try and keep dust from coming into your home. We also recommend, especially as we gear up towards wildfire season, is getting yourself ready in your home with a clean air room."

As of late Thursday morning, all of the APCD measuring stations in the south county were indicating green levels.

Article Topic Follows: Weather News

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Dave Alley

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