SkyCast and Air Quality Index

Air Quality Monitoring and Tracking


The Mid-America Regional Council tracks regional air quality and issues a daily SkyCast forecast from March to October. The SkyCast gives us the ground-level ozone forecast.

Additionally, the Air Quality Index tells us the air quality based on pollution measurements from the previous day and probable weather conditions.

Clouds over downtown Kansas City skyline

What is ozone?

Our atmosphere is made up of two kinds of ozone:

  • Good: the ozone layer high above the Earth protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
  • Bad: ground-level ozone, also known as ozone pollution or smog

Ground-level ozone

Ozone pollution is more than a dirty-looking cloud on the horizon. More than half of all ozone pollution is caused by everyday people doing everyday things, like emissions from vehicles, lawn mowers, power plants and industry react with heat and sunlight. Ozone pollution is harmful for everyone, especially to people with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Children are also at high risk when the ozone level reaches "Alert" status. Ground-level ozone makes it difficult for your lungs to absorb oxygen, making you cough.

Setting Limits

For health reasons, the Environmental Protection Agency places limits on how much ground-level ozone our air can contain. In October 2015, the EPA changed the national ground-level ozone standards to 70 ppb to better protect public health. Those standards are currently under additional review.

Latest Ozone Alerts


Ozone Alert issued for Tuesday, Aug. 22

August 21, 2023

A meter showing an orange reading against a sky


Ozone Alert issued for Monday, Aug. 21

August 20, 2023

A meter showing an orange reading against a sky

Predicting Air Quality

During the ozone season from March 1 through October 31, meteorologists monitor upwind air quality and a variety of weather conditions like temperature, cloud cover, wind speed and direction, ceiling height, and others to issue a SkyCast each afternoon by 4 p.m.

Similar to a weather forecast, these SkyCasts tell you what air quality conditions in our region are most likely to be for the next day. If ground-level ozone levels are expected to reach unhealthy levels, the MARC Air Quality Program will release an Ozone Alert containing advice for protective measures and actions that reduce pollution. To learn more about SkyCast and Ozone Alerts and how to sign up for them, visit

Understanding SkyCast and Air Quality Index

The Air Quality Index and the SkyCast use the same color scale with the same meanings. The AQI also gives us a numeric value that estimates the presence of ozone in parts per billion (ppb).

Color Value Sky Cast Air Quality Index AQI Value Recommended Health Actions
Green Good Healthy 0-50 No health impacts expected.
Yellow Moderate Elevated ozone concentrations 51-100 Sensitive people, such as those with respiratory ailments or allergies, should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.
Orange Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Ozone Alert 101-150 Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
Red Unhealthy Ozone Alert 151-200 Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.


Clouds over Kansas City skyline

Stay safe on Ozone Alert days

Get tips on protecting your health and the environment during an Ozone Alert.

Liberty Memorial with clouds and the skyline

Subscribe to SkyCast Alerts

Sign up to receive SkyCast air quality forecasts via EnviroFlash.

KC Scout statue on a cloudy day

Ozone Summaries

MARC tracks local ozone monitor readings and provides data summaries to the community after each ozone season.