PHOENIX - There is a nasty brown cloud lingering over the Valley and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is warning everyone to limit their time outdoors.
Warm weather in the atmosphere traps cooler air down near the surface; this process is called inversion. Additionally, it’s also trapping all that dust, pollution and gunk that is creating the haze across the Phoenix-metro area.
Timothy Franquist, director of the Air Quality Division at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality says, it's not unusual during this time of the year. However, what is unusual are the current weather conditions.
"We're seeing a combination of a few different issues, 1, we're over 100 days without rain so, that's certainly making for very dry conditions," says Franquist.
With little to no wind there's nothing to push that gunk and out. Also, La Niña weather pattern is bringing in warmer weather this season and that will also affect this inversion. ADEQ says while they don't expect this to be an every day thing this winter they're asking everyone, not just those vulnerable populations, to limit their time outside.
"We're getting a lot of reports of folks having impairment and breathing issues. So we're having an all around challenge with air quality," says Franquist.
Along with those calls they've gotten complaints about a bad smell in downtown Phoenix around the same time this brown haze moved in.
"The smell seems to be a little more unusual. We've been working close with Maricopa County, we don't have a source unfortunately," says Franquist.
While they continue to investigate they're asking everyone to do their part to help improve our air quality. Avoid recreational burns. Car pool when you can and avoid any activities that will kick up dirt in the air.