Escaping the Fires: How to Read Map Colours for Beginners!

  • I’m in Australia (the east coast on fire) - I’m asthmatic dodging toxic air, needing to be able to avoid smoke as much as possible. How can I predict wind changes/air quality? I don’t understand the very basics of reading the colours. What should I be looking for to have cleanest air vs. more smoke/toxic air and how to predict future.

    Any assistance appreciated:)

    Hoping to be able to get back home for Christmas Day at least.
    Thank You!


  • Sailor Moderator

    It’s probably difficult to avoid smoke on the east coast at the moment.
    First locate the wildfires with the Active fires map. This is not a prediction, just an observation (every 24h) and it shows the wind direction if Particle animation is ticked:

    Then switch to CO concentration. The carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas produced by wildfires and it gives a good idea of the smoke extent near the ground. This layer gives a 3 days forecast:
    On this map above you see the wind blowing from the sea along the coast and from southwest in the country side. So the smoke is probably not extending so much and moves vertically on the convergence line.

    But if the wind direction changes some hours later, it may be difficult to find a place with fresh air :
    On this map the Active fires are shown at same time as CO concentration.

    You can look at PM2.5 layer too. These very fine particulates are also produced by wildfires (but it is not the only source).

    It is useful to check also the Satellite view which gives good pictures sometime of current smoke plumes.

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