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2020 NorCal Fire Thread

Old 08-25-20, 10:05 PM
  #51  
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Yeah I've been switching off between AirNow and Purple.
I attempted my ride this morning leaving at my usual before 8 but halfway through my eyes started getting irritated. Plus I had a flat. Good thing my halfway point is only a few blocks from home so I decided to call it quits. Will attempt again tomorrow and hope it's better. It's like a crapshoot everyday.
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Old 08-26-20, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
Yeah I've been switching off between AirNow and Purple.
I attempted my ride this morning leaving at my usual before 8 but halfway through my eyes started getting irritated. Plus I had a flat. Good thing my halfway point is only a few blocks from home so I decided to call it quits. Will attempt again tomorrow and hope it's better. It's like a crapshoot everyday.
Afternoons seem to be the best bet. The crap seem to start blowing out around noon to 2, depending where you are.
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Old 08-26-20, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Afternoons seem to be the best bet. The crap seem to start blowing out around noon to 2, depending where you are.
Yeah... early evenings for me. Got in a ride last night just before sunset.
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Old 08-26-20, 09:56 AM
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You guys are more brave than I...
Nothing but indoors for me (East Bay). Visibility has been down to 1-2 hundred yards.
I inadvertently spec'ed an electrostatic air filter for my home A/C when installed. Best accidental purchase ever !


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Old 08-26-20, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
You guys are more brave than I...
Nothing but indoors for me (East Bay). Visibility has been down to 1-2 hundred yards.
I inadvertently spec'ed an electrostatic air filter for my home A/C when installed. Best accidental purchase ever !


Barry
That's really a fantastic accident. I'm an architect by trade and can't believe how many people don't realize the contaminants they're potentially bringing in by running their HVAC when conditions are severe. I don't have A/C and suffered a few days last week when it was hot and I couldn't open my windows. Just the constant re-circ of air purifiers...
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Old 08-26-20, 10:36 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
You guys are more brave than I...
Nothing but indoors for me (East Bay). Visibility has been down to 1-2 hundred yards.
I inadvertently spec'ed an electrostatic air filter for my home A/C when installed. Best accidental purchase ever !


Barry
A lot depends on where you live. The afternoon winds seem to clear out the Peninsula first, starting at SF and working down. But on a couple days, like yesterday, the San Mateo area East of the Crystal Springs gap clears before the areas north and south. Then again, in the mornings when the smoke is building up again, San Mateo leads that trend, too.

This is right now. I've given up on morning rides, because it's been like this or worse every morning. But most afternoons, it clears out. You can see how San Mateo has the worst air on the Bay side of the Peninsula, and worst right where I'd be riding if I headed over to Canada Road.



Monday I had to take my son to his job in Menlo Park, then head from Menlo Park to Brisbane for my work. The absolute worst smoke, like "Pittsburgh Smoke Days" bad, was North of Edgewood and south of Burlingame.
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Old 08-26-20, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by paloaltan View Post
That's really a fantastic accident. I'm an architect by trade and can't believe how many people don't realize the contaminants they're potentially bringing in by running their HVAC when conditions are severe. I don't have A/C and suffered a few days last week when it was hot and I couldn't open my windows. Just the constant re-circ of air purifiers...
The replaceable Merv 13 filter is comparatively huge (25" x 19" x 2.5") and not inexpensive (2/yr @ $95ea)... but cheaper than replacement lungs.
And new Lungs are out of stock in most places.

Barry

BTW you can't install a high MERV filter if your system was not built to use one. It will damage your system!
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Old 08-26-20, 03:47 PM
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The day I decided to pass and today hasn't been a bad day over here.
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Old 08-26-20, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
The day I decided to pass and today hasn't been a bad day over here.
It's never too late to go for a ride.
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Old 08-26-20, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
The day I decided to pass and today hasn't been a bad day over here.
I've given up on making assumptions about whether it will be okay to ride on a given day or time. I'm being opportunistic for now - yesterday afternoon, it cleared all the way to Woodside, so at 4 I stopped W'ing FH (Working From Home) and rode from home to the peak of Canada and back. I'm fortunate to have that flexibility.

The only problem is, when it's clear, it's also likely to be windy. Yesterday sure was!
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Old 08-27-20, 08:25 AM
  #61  
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This morning looks good most places.
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Old 08-27-20, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post


Just remember to use the LRAPA conversion, or the numbers will have you hiding under the bed.

I've read about that LRAPA conversion, and not to disagree, but to me it doesn't really matter. I've used PA for several years, and never switched the conversion. Anything over 150 without a conversion is bad for me, personally speaking. At about 150 is when I can really smell the smoke in the air, and see the poor air quality. But with that conversion factor, it may take it down to a much lower number. Maybe that means my lungs can't take as much crap as others', so when I see 150 or more (with no conversion), I will either stay in, or go with an N95.
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Old 08-27-20, 05:02 PM
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Looks like (for now), the amount of smoke in many parts of the Bay Area has decreased. Yesterday was nice for most of the day, there was a weird few hours around noon when it got bad, but before and after that, it was halfway decent. Today has been even better. I can see smoke in the air in the distance, but locally in the East Bay at least, it's been very much improved! Maybe this has to do with the return of the breeze and the marine layer, but hopefully the high humidity levels is helping greatly with the fire efforts.
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Old 08-27-20, 07:16 PM
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Yeah, you gotta listen to your body and be guided by it. LRAPA conversion just aligns Purple Air with AirNow and other sources, and in the end, regarding the AQI and the colors....
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Old 08-28-20, 09:08 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Yeah, you gotta listen to your body and be guided by it. LRAPA conversion just aligns Purple Air with AirNow and other sources, and in the end, regarding the AQI and the colors....
It is interesting that the conversion takes the number down quite a bit, and that is what Airnow is using. I guess what I assumed was unhealthy for most people is a much higher threshold than what I had thought for so long. I guess our bodies are more able to withstand smoke and ash particle-filled air than I thought! Although I imagine this assumes we aren't doing extremely strenuous exercise like cycling, especially a hard effort. That really makes you breathe it in really deep, and that "healthy" threshold is probably a lower number...
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Old 08-28-20, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
It is interesting that the conversion takes the number down quite a bit, and that is what Airnow is using. I guess what I assumed was unhealthy for most people is a much higher threshold than what I had thought for so long. I guess our bodies are more able to withstand smoke and ash particle-filled air than I thought! Although I imagine this assumes we aren't doing extremely strenuous exercise like cycling, especially a hard effort. That really makes you breathe it in really deep, and that "healthy" threshold is probably a lower number...
My Dad grew up in Pittsburgh - the real Pittsburgh, with the steel industry - in the 20s and 30s. I think an average day there was probably 'unhealthy', but he also told me stories of "Smoke Days", when there was a thermal inversion that pushed the smoke from the mills - and everyone's coal-fired furnaces - down to ground level. He told me about one time when he and his pals wanted to go downtown (or "Dahntahn" in Pittsburghese), but it was too smokey - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY - for his friend with a car to drive. So Dad walked along the trolley tracks, waving his white handkerchief behind him so the driver could follow.

Dad died just last year at 100 1/2 years old, so clearly it's possible to survive smoke like this But I do wonder how many DIDN'T survive, with healthcare being a lot less effective back then. Also, how many would have lived longer without having been exposed to that stuff.
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Old 08-28-20, 03:22 PM
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I've got a neighbor who won't come out for anything when the smoke settles in. This is the same guy who goes snow camping in the middle of February and burns a cord of wood in three days. Really, it depends on how your immune system reacts to the smoke.
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Old 08-28-20, 03:44 PM
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Well looks like today isn't going to clear up anytime soon. It started last night after dinner. I thought by the time I woke up we'd be good again. This is the worse I've seen in the area these past two weeks. Usually we have some clearing. Stay safe,all!
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Old 08-28-20, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
Well looks like today isn't going to clear up anytime soon. It started last night after dinner. I thought by the time I woke up we'd be good again. This is the worse I've seen in the area these past two weeks. Usually we have some clearing. Stay safe,all!
Generally mornings are the worst, because the onshore flow dies down and stops pushing the smoke off east of here.
I was watching all afternoon, having decided I'd go ahead if it was <100 all the way from San Mateo to Woodside. It got better, till there was only one sensor registering >100, but it didn't seem like it wanted to go much lower.

I ended up riding in the garage, but I used Youtube videos of a ride on Canada, and Old La Honda to keep me going. It was better than nothing!
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Old 08-31-20, 02:43 PM
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I don't know, I'm honestly a bit skeptical about Purple Air's LRAPA conversion. There are times when it seems to paint a much rosier picture than what I'm actually smelling and seeing when I step outside, and in those cases the "None" option seems more accurate.

There are times when there's a discrepancy where the "None" option shows sensors in my area ranging from, say, the 120s to 140s (i.e., unhealthy for sensitive people), but clicking LRAPA brings everything down to the 70s, 80s, or 90s, and yet the air is still objectively pretty darn smokey when you're out in it.

I'm obviously not an expert, so maybe there is a certain amount of smoke in the air that is totally fine for healthy people to inhale? However, I recall reading a quote a few years ago from an expert on this saying that if you're smelling smoke when you stick your head outside, that means there's enough of it in the air to be bad for anyone, regardless of the air quality index levels.

So, basically, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with riding when Purple Air's "None" levels are at about 110 or more, as that's about where I usually start smelling smoke.

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Old 08-31-20, 04:25 PM
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Remember, AQI is a unitless number, and the point of the conversion is that PurpleAir's inexpensive sensors apparently tend to give a higher reading on wildfire smoke than more expensive ones used by the EPA, and LRAPA just brings them more into alignment. It doesn't change the air.

I've found PurpleAir to be fantastically useful this month! The large sensor network lets you see developing trends, like seeing the numbers rising in the San Mateo Highlands while it was still nice and clear in the flats. I knew what was coming. Same thing happens when it clears - I can see it coming. "AirNow" is just too slow to see the short term trends, and if you plan based on it, you'll either find yourself riding in smoke, or huddled inside when it's nice and clear outside.
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Old 09-01-20, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Remember, AQI is a unitless number, and the point of the conversion is that PurpleAir's inexpensive sensors apparently tend to give a higher reading on wildfire smoke than more expensive ones used by the EPA, and LRAPA just brings them more into alignment. It doesn't change the air.

I've found PurpleAir to be fantastically useful this month! The large sensor network lets you see developing trends, like seeing the numbers rising in the San Mateo Highlands while it was still nice and clear in the flats. I knew what was coming. Same thing happens when it clears - I can see it coming. "AirNow" is just too slow to see the short term trends, and if you plan based on it, you'll either find yourself riding in smoke, or huddled inside when it's nice and clear outside.
Totally agree - AirNow is useless because of the one- to two-hour lag time, and Purple Air is infinitely more useful to us cyclists because it gives you localized and regularly updated readings for whatever area you plan to ride in (except for super remote areas). I'm just skeptical of the LRAPA conversion because I've had too many instances where the LRAPA numbers look pretty good, but then I step outside and I smell and see smoke.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:03 AM
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The smoke in Santa Cruz seems to be better, according to my nose and Purple Air, than in much of the Bay Area. I think I am going to try to ride in and see what is going on with my house. That will be about 2000 ft net of climbing in smoke, which might be kind of stupid, but I can't get past the road blocks in my car.

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Old 09-01-20, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
The smoke in Santa Cruz seems to be better, according to my nose and Purple Air, than in much of the Bay Area. I think I am going to try to ride in and see what is going on with my house. That will be about 2000 ft net of climbing in smoke, which might be kind of stupid, but I can't get past the road blocks in my car.
Good luck!
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Old 09-01-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Pavol Stromcek View Post
Totally agree - AirNow is useless because of the one- to two-hour lag time, and Purple Air is infinitely more useful to us cyclists because it gives you localized and regularly updated readings for whatever area you plan to ride in (except for super remote areas). I'm just skeptical of the LRAPA conversion because I've had too many instances where the LRAPA numbers look pretty good, but then I step outside and I smell and see smoke.
Yeah, I'm mostly guided by what it looks like outside, plus what the numbers around are, and the trend. That sudden worsening on Sunday caught me totally off guard, though - 76 to 152 in the course of 30 minutes!

Right now, the two closest sensors (LRAPA adjusted) are saying '102', AND I can see haze between me and the pine tree across the creek and two houses down the street. Also, the numbers for the Highlands are about the same as here and everything's been the same for a couple hours. I would walk the dog now, but I wouldn't ride.

I guess I'm gonna look into Zwift. I had a really nice riding season going back in 2018 when the Camp Fire blew up and we had 2 weeks of red-purple air everywhere, and then 2 months of rain. I don't want to have this kill my momentum.
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