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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:36 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Most of Montana is experiencing GOOD air quality today as showers and thunderstorms, along with gusty winds, have kept the air clear. The one exception is some smoke in southern Montana. The source of this smoke is fires in Nevada and Utah. The smoke is moving southwest up into Montana and is visible on satellite. 24-hour air quality has reached MODERATE in Billings. Hourly conditions in Bozeman reached UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS for one hour this morning. The last two hours in Bozeman have returned to GOOD conditions. Concentrations in Sidney have also been increasing throughout the morning and may reach MODERATE levels soon.

Some small fires have popped up over the last 24 hours in, or near, Montana due to the lightning from yesterday’s storms. There is a small fire just over the border in Wyoming, and two fires have ignited near Holter Lake, west of I-15. Little information is available on these fires so far, but red flag and high wind warnings are up for many locations in Montana today, so conditions may worsen.

Mid-level winds will be shifting to the west throughout the day. Montana will again be downwind of the Washington fires, however fire activity has decreased in that area since last week as cooler temperatures, rain, and increased humidity have allowed firefighters to make good progress.

The gusty winds should help keep air quality GOOD in most locations today. Some areas may see MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as smoke drifts in from distant fires, first in southern and eastern Montana from fires to our south, then in western Montana from fires to our west. Fire watches are in effects for many areas of Montana today, so the situation may change rapidly as local fires may grow or start.
Air quality is
GOOD across much of the state again today. Some smoke is drifting in from Nevada and Utah, leading to MODERATE air quality in Billings and some elevated values in Bozeman and Sidney. Local fires are being reported near Great Falls and just over the border in Wyoming. Winds will be gusty and shifting to the west later today with the passage of a cold front. Fire watches are in effect due to the hot, dry, and gusty conditions expected ahead of this front.
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




Satellite imagery shows a smoke plume east of Yellowstone. 

Satellite imagery shows a smoke plume east of Yellowstone.
Source: NWS

 
The skies in Billings are slightly hazy due to the smoke drifting in.

The skies in Billings are slightly hazy due to the smoke drifting in.
Source: KTVQ

This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind (the analyzed smoke is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights satellite coverage).

This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind (the analyzed smoke is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights satellite coverage).

Red indicates hot spot detected. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. Fire size is exaggerated for visibility at this scale. To identify individual fires on graphic above go here: http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/lg_fire2.php 




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  Bozeman - 1 hour (has now returned to good)
  Moderate

 Billings - 24 hour
 

  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.