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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Sunday, July 5, 2015 4:25 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
There is a big change in the weather across all of Montana today. After days of daily 90 degree temperatures and dry, stagnant conditions, we are now seeing cloudy skies across the state. Rain showers and thunderstorms are moving through parts of Montana and gusty winds are prevalent across most of the state.

Unfortunately, the strong winds have carried in smoke that is currently impacting many locations around eastern Montana. 24 hour average concentrations are currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Sidney, Malta, Lewistown, Billings, Birney, and Great Falls, and MODERATE in Helena, Bozeman, and Broadus. Due to the widespread cloud cover over Montana, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this smoke. A northwest wind across the area is likely bringing down smoke from fires in British Columbia and parts of the Pacific Northwest. In addition, new fires are being reported in central Montana, including a 1,500 acre grass fire east of Lewistown. Lastly, newspapers are reporting a number of small grassfires due to fireworks around the state.

This week is expected to be cooler, with northwest flow aloft slowly transitioning to warmer temperatures and southwest flow towards the end of the week. With the number of fires surrounding Montana to the west, northwest, and north, and the increase in fire activity within the state, Montana will likely be impacted by smoke for the foreseeable future.
Widespread cloud cover, scattered showers, and smoke are present east of the Divide today. Montana is downwind of fires in British Columbia today, likely contributing to the smoke impacts. In addition, large fires are being reported in central Montana, although the full impacts of these fires are difficult to determine until more information becomes available.
Residents near active fires and under plumes aloft need to remain aware of current conditions and use the visibility guidelines to guide their activity decisions as the situation changes.

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




There is widespread cloud cover across Montana today, associated with the cold front that brought much cooler temperatures to the area today. 

There is widespread cloud cover across Montana today, associated with the cold front that brought much cooler temperatures to the area today.
Source: NWS

 
Satellite analysis cannot properly track the smoke this morning, due to the widespread cloud cover.

Satellite analysis cannot properly track the smoke this morning, due to the widespread cloud cover.
Source: NOAA

The following image shows large wildfire activity in the U.S.

The following image shows large wildfire activity in the U.S.

Source: USFS 

Overcast conditions are present across much of Montana today, as can be seen in Billings.

Overcast conditions are present across much of Montana today, as can be seen in Billings.
Source: KTVQ

The smoke report below compares particulate levels where information is available to MDEQ’s Health Effects Categories. Real time particulate information is currently available in most of the larger urban areas from several different sources including: DEQ run PM-10 BAMS and PM2.5 BAMS, NWS ASOS visibility monitors, and USFS remote access Nephelometers and BAMS. These advisories represent conditions between midnight and 8 AM and may change substantially throughout the day.

Locations and severity of forest fire smoke reports since midnight of the date above at reporting stations.
Health Effects Categories City
  Hazardous  
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Sidney
Malta
Lewistown
Billings
Birney
Great Falls
  Moderate

 Helena
Bozeman
Broadus
 

  Good

 All other reporting sites 

B1(x) One-hour BAM value (number of values)
B8(x) Eight-hour average BAM
B24 24 hour  average BAM value
Vis(x) Visibility value (number of hours)
Vis(am/pm) Visibility value from twice/day reporting stations

Local impacts in areas immediately adjacent to active fires are expected to exceed some or all of the advisory levels.  DEQ recommends the use of local visibility guidelines to evaluate possible health risks and make informed activity decisions.