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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, October 9, 2015 11:22 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
An Air Quality Alert has been issued until further notice in Lincoln and Sanders counties due to elevated particulate concentrations

Air quality in Libby is currently UNHEALTHY,

Air quality in Thompson Falls is currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS

When air quality is VERY UNHEALTHY, state and local health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

When air quality is UNHEALTHY, state and local health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid prolonged exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

When air quality is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, state and local health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.


CURRENT SITUATION AND FORECAST

After the monitor in Libby got going and adequate data has been collected, it is showing UNHEALTHY air due to cumulative exposures, while Thompson Falls is currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITVE GROUPS. Everywhere else, conditions are GOOD.

High humidity and patchy fog fill some northwest Montana valleys this morning, but will be quickly dissipated by the sun and a building high pressure ridge. Libby and Thompson Falls continue to be impacted by smoke despite the humidity. Cloud cover yesterday prevented satellite analysis from detecting smoke or thermal anomalies, but conditions from the last few days suggest that the wildfires continue to burn in northwest Montana and northern Idaho. A high pressure ridge is continuing to strengthen today, and drier and warmer conditions are expected for today and Saturday, so conditions may not improve greatly unless fire activity significantly changes. A cold front is expected on Sunday, bringing in high winds, cooler temperatures, and will hopefully see widespread precipitation. This system will hopefully help alleviate fire activity and increase smoke dispersion. Until then, wildfire activity in northwest Montana and Idaho will be the major contributor to the smoke impacts.

Expect air quality conditions in the MODERATE to UNHEALTHY range in northwest Montana for the coming days. Expect GOOD to MODERATE conditions everywhere else.
Air quality is at UNHEALTHY levels at Libby and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS at Thompson Falls. At all other reporting locations, levels are GOOD. The most significant impacts will continue in northwest Montana, with some chances of smoke making its way to the Flathead Valley and the Missoula Valley, downwind of the major fires identified over the last several days by satellite imagery and analysis. The building ridge of high pressure through today and tomorrow will probably not help alleviate conditions, but a cold front arriving on Sunday should help mitigate fire activity and smoke impacts.
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.

Air Quality Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Phone: (406) 444-3490
Email: DEQ-ARMB-Admin@mt.gov




Overcast skies yesterday make it hard to distinguish smoke from clouds. 

Overcast skies yesterday make it hard to distinguish smoke from clouds.
Source: NASA

 








 




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  Libby
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Thompson Falls
  Moderate

  

  Good

 All other reporting locations. 

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.