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Winter Air Quality Update & Forecast
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 9:49 AM

Locations and Air Quality Conditions


Current Situation Forecast
Air quality remains GOOD at all monitored locations this morning. Crews continue to make progress on active fires in Montana. The Reynolds Creek fire is currently 56% contained with minimal smoke impacts visible on the St. Mary Visitor Center webcam. The Muddy Creek 2 fire near Lame Deer is currently 35% contained with minimal fire behavior reported, and the ‘5 mile’ fire is now 70% contained. A new 640 acre fire has been reported to the west of Ismay, MT with active fire behavior. The fires in southeast Montana may be causing moderate smoke impacts to areas directly downwind.

The low pressure system that brought wet, cool weather to the region has exited the state. A ridge of high pressure is currently building over the western U.S, with a west northwest flow aloft over Montana. The ridge will slowly strengthen over Montana, leading to above average temperatures by Friday and Saturday. This week looks dry with increasing temperatures and decreasing winds each day. Gusty winds and low humidity has prompted a red flag warning today along the Rocky Mountain Front. This may cause some increased smoke production on the Reynolds Creek Fire this afternoon. Beginning next week there is a better chance for afternoon showers and thunderstorms each day as the ridge continues to dominate our weather.

Due to the large area of high pressure, we may start to see widespread hazy skies by the end of the week as smoke gets trapped under the ridge. Smoke from fires in Montana, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington may all contribute to these possible smoke impacts.
A calm week with GOOD to MODERATE air quality is expected as a ridge of high pressure slowly builds over the state throughout the week. Towards the end of the week, we may start to see increasing hazy skies and possible smoke impacts as smoke from fires throughout the western U.S. gets trapped under the ridge.

Kristen Martin
State Air Quality Meteorologist
Air Resource Management Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Phone: (406) 444-0283
Email: kmartin@mt.gov




It is a clear day in Billings this morning. Areas to the east of Billings may see some intermittent smoke impacts from a handful of fires burning throughout the region.  

It is a clear day in Billings this morning. Areas to the east of Billings may see some intermittent smoke impacts from a handful of fires burning throughout the region.
Source: KTVQ

 
Clear skies are present across the entire state this morning, as a ridge of high pressure begins to build into the area.

Clear skies are present across the entire state this morning, as a ridge of high pressure begins to build into the area.
Source: UCAR

Satellite smoke analysis from yesterday shows localized impacts from active fires across the west. These fires may cause smoke to build up under the ridge of high pressure that is expected to impact the region for the next week.

Satellite smoke analysis from yesterday shows localized impacts from active fires across the west. These fires may cause smoke to build up under the ridge of high pressure that is expected to impact the region for the next week.

Source: NOAA 

Fires in Montana, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington may all have an impact on air quality over the next week, as the weather has shifted to a more summer like pattern.

Fires in Montana, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington may all have an impact on air quality over the next week, as the weather has shifted to a more summer like pattern.
Source: USFS

Real time particulate information is currently available in most of the larger urban areas from MDEQ's Today's Air website.

Today's particulate report below compares particulate levels received from DEQ's
reporting stations with MDEQ’s wildfire health advisory levels.

Locations and severity of PM 2.5 particulate values since midnight of the date above.
Health Effects Categories City
  Hazardous  
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  
  Moderate

  

  Good

 All reporting sites 

B1(x) One-hour BAM value (number of values)
B8(x) Eight-hour average BAM
B24 24 hour  average BAM value