Last Thursday, Baltimore ended a six-day smog alert, the worst in a decade, according to weather officials. But though cooler air finally dispersed the choking haze, Baltimore's air is normally worse than other, larger East Coast cities. A top weather official says that's because Baltimore "is sort of in the wrong place."
How can that be? And if so, why should anyone in Western Maryland care?
It can be, according to Eric D. Luebehusen, a meteorologist with the Maryland Department of the Environment, because of Baltimore's location on the coast. Philadelphia, which produces more pollutants, has fewer problems because it gets regular infusions of cold northern air. In Baltimore, problems are multiplied because breezes coming off the Chesapeake Bay push pollution inland and because prevailing winds bring Washington, D.C. pollution to Baltimore.
All this matters to Western Maryland because this region has already been included with Baltimore for pollution-monitoring purposes and because, like the city's court system, its correctional system and its schools, the rest of the state always seems to end up paying to solve problems there.