Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

First March ozone violations since 2007

The ozone standard has been breached twice this week in the San Joaquin Valley — both in Maricopa at the southwest end of Kern County. They are the first March violations since 2007.

The late-winter warm spell gets the blame. At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the usual suspects — Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield and Sequoia National Park — are not spiking ozone problems.

The point is that it’s hard to escape ozone problems in the 25,000-square-mile San Joaquin Valley when nature switches on the heat.

The Valley’s run of five years without a March violation is memorable if only because such early season problems were pretty common a few years ago.

March violations happened in every year between 2001 and 2004. And there were nine violations in 2004.

Those were the bad old days of ozone here. The Valley averaged 155 violations over that span. From 2008 to 2012, the average was 105.

The goal in cleaning up the Valley’s air is zero violations. Last year, the Valley had 105 violations. But the first one didn’t happen until the third week in April.

Temperature records fell all over state

Meteorologist Steve Johnson, a private consultant in the Fresno area, posted a list of California records set on warm Wednesday this week.

It was topped by Fresno’s 85 degrees, which broke the 2007 record for the day by one degree.  Burbank broke its record by eight degrees.

From reading the list, it looks like 2007 was pretty warm, too. But there are also some very old records that were broken. The Riverside record was more than a century old.

Here’s the list, which includes the place, the new record and the old record:

Fresno,  85°  (84° set in 2007), South Lake Tahoe, 69° (64° set in 2007), Burbank,  93° (85° set in 1951), Sandberg,  77° (76° set in 2007),  Woodland Hills, 94° (92° set in 2007), Ramona, 86° (84° set in 2007), Riverside, 95° (90° set in 1902), Thermal, 97° (96° set in 1997), Alpine, 84° (81° set in 1994), El Cajon, 86° (81° set in 2004), Elsinore, 92° (88° set in 1926), Escondido, 87° (86° set in 1951).

If warm weather continues, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will come rolling down a little sooner than usual. The snowpack is about 60% of average right now — better than last year when it was about 45% as spring began in late March.