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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, September 11, 2009 9:51 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Smoke from the Indian Trail fire north of Helena was pushed into the Helena valley yesterday evening as the wind shift behind the frontal passage moved the smoke south. The formation of a nocturnal inversion kept most of the smoke aloft and there is a substantial amount of smoke hovering over the Helena valley this morning. Smoke levels at the surface around Helena are still at GOOD. Smoke conditions near Holter Lake are estimated to be at UNHEALTHY levels or worse.

The smoke overhead in the Helena area will mix down to the surface later this morning in a classic fumigation condition. This will degrade the air quality down to at least a MODERATE level for a couple of hours and may reach UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in some areas. Very little net transport is available to move the smoke out of the area as a high pressure system settles in for the day today. Mixing heights should be unlimited for a while this afternoon but the smoke will likely settle back down into the Helena area again overnight. Residents experiencing local impacts should use the VISIBILITY RANGES to determine smoke levels in their area and guide their activity decisions.
Smoke levels at all reporting sites are at GOOD conditions as of 8 AM. Smoke levels in the Holter lake area near the Indian Trail fire are estimated to be UNHEALTHY or worse. Residents experiencing impacts from nearby fires should use the VISIBILITY RANGES to determine current conditions.
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.

John Coefield
Meteorologist
Air Resource Management Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
406-444-5272




A morning satellite photo centered on Great Falls is illustrated below:  

A morning satellite photo centered on Great Falls is illustrated below:
The plume of smoke from t he Indian Trail fire is clearly visible stretching down to the south towards Helena.

 





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. Shades of color represent 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 

This photo from the Web Cam on top of the MDEQ building in Helena shows the layer of Smoke from the Indian Trail fire hovering over the Helena Valley at 9:15 this morning.

This photo from the Web Cam on top of the MDEQ building in Helena shows the layer of Smoke from the Indian Trail fire hovering over the Helena Valley at 9:15 this morning.

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  Holter Lake (est)
  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
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.