2008 Northern California Wildfires
This page last reviewed January 17, 2012
During the summer of 2008, extreme fuel conditions in Northern and Central California and an unusually intensive outbreak of lightning strikes from a series of dry thunderstorms combined for an unprecedented summer fire season. All of Northern California, and much of Central California, was affected, with smoke and haze lingering over the region for much of the summer.
Numerous monitoring sites, comprising both Federal Reference Method (FRM) and Federal Equivalent Method (FEM) monitors, recorded almost daily elevated particulate matter (PM) concentration levels, with many days above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for both PM2.5 and PM10, an unusual occurrence in the summer. In addition, although summer is a traditionally high ozone season, ozone monitors throughout the region showed the additional impact of the wildfires, with many monitors exceeding the NAAQS.
ARB requested exclusion of PM data from over 30 monitoring sites in 15 Air Districts where smoke caused levels to exceed those historically seen during the summer low particulate season. Exclusion of ozone data was also requested for sites in the Sacramento Metropolitan region.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provides the definition and criteria for determining whether air quality data is impacted by an exceptional event. The 40 CFR 50.1 (j)1 definition states that “exceptional event means an event that affects air quality, is not reasonably controllable or preventable, is an event caused by human activity that is unlikely to recur at a particular location or a natural event, and is determined by the Administrator in accordance with 40 CFR 50.14 to be an exceptional event.” The demonstration to justify data exclusion as outlined in 40 CFR 50.14 specifies that evidence must be provided to show that:
- The event meets the definition of an exceptional event;
- There is a clear causal relationship between the measurement under consideration and the event that is claimed to have affected air quality in the area;
- The event is associated with a measured concentration in excess of normal historical fluctuations, including background; and,
- There would have been no exceedance or violation but for the event.
- ARB Request Letter to U.S. EPA - August 28, 2009 (pdf - 27 kb)
- Natural Event Document (pdf - 7 mb)
- A. Complete List of Monitoring Sites and Days Requestedfor Exclusion (pdf - 60 kb)
- B. Meteorology Surface and Upper-Air Maps (pdf- 3 mb)
- C. Satellite Images (pdf - 66mb)
- D. Fire Maps (pdf - 39 mb)
- E. NOAA Satellite Services Division, Smoke Maps,and Smoke Text Products (pdf - 8.5 mb)
- F. Health and Smoke Advisories (pdf- 8 mb)
- G. Media Coverage (pdf - 13 mb)
- H. ARB Agricultural Burn Decisions (pdf- 255 kb)
- U.S. EPA Partial Concurrence - March 22, 2010 [U.S.
EPA only acted on data that impacted a regulatory determination] (pdf - 52kb)
- U.S. EPA Analysis(pdf - 1.5 mb)
- U.S. EPA Partial Concurrence - April 2, 2010 [U.S.
EPA only acted on data that impacted a regulatory determination] (pdf - 53kb)
- U.S. EPA Analysis(pdf - 1.5 mb)
Official Ozone Exceptional Events Documentation Submitted to U.S. EPA March 30, 2011
- Exceptional Events Documentation for 1-Hour Ozone Exceedances in the Sacramento Regional Nonattainment Area Due to 2008 Wildfires (pdf - 8.3 mb)
- A. Wildfire Table (pdf - 87 kb)
- B. Meteorological Analysis and Graphics - June 23 (pdf - 23.3 mb)
- C. Meteorological Analysis and Graphics - June 27 (pdf - 18.8 mb)
- D. Meteorological Analysis and Graphics - July 10 (pdf - 20.3 mb)
- E. Public Health Advisories (pdf - 1.4 mb)
- F. News Reports (pdf - 71.9 mb)
- G. Public Comments (pdf - 83 kb)
- X. STI - Regression Analysis and Addendum (pdf - 176 kb)
- Y. STI - Rules of Thumb (pdf - 961 kb)
- U.S. EPA Concurrence - April 13, 2011 (pdf - 8.3 mb)
- U.S. EPA Analysis(pdf - 8.3 mb)
- 8-Ozone Exceptional Event Documentation for 2008 Northern California Wildfires - Documents submitted to U.S. EPA in March 2009, detailing the impact of the 2008 Northern California Wildfires on 8-hour ozone concentrations can be found on this page.
Additional Web-based Information regarding the 2008 Northern California Wildfires (not part of official documentation)
- California Exceptional Events - Youtube.
- 2008 Lightning Siege Overview. California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.
- California Wildfires June 2008
- California Wildfires. NOAA Goddard Earth Sciences, Data and Information Services Center
- Fires in California. NASA Earth Observatory.
- Summer 2008 California wildfires. Wikipedia.
- California Wildfires 2008 Aftermath. University Business Magazine.
California Fire Updates. About.com: San Francisco.
Comments and questions regarding this subject may be sent to:
Ms. Theresa Najita
at (916) 322-7297
Air Pollution Specialist
Air Quality Data Branch
Planning and Technical Support Division
California Air Resources Board
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento CA 95812