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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 3:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Several small wildfires are already burning across parts of western Montana. Three miles south of Philipsburg, firefighters are making great progress on the Rumsey Gulch fire. Most of the wildfires are around the rim of the Helena Valley today. Firefighters are also making good progress on the Spokane Hills fire near Winston. Lighter winds and cooler temperatures overnight helped in this effort. Several new wildfires showed up in the Big Belt Mountains this afternoon near York. Smoke from these fires is rising well above the mountain peaks and blowing generally to the east. Currently, the Helena Valley is not seeing smoke and air quality impacts from either of these fires and air quality remains GOOD in the valley.

Tonight, smoke will settle down into nearby gulches which may cause only localized air quality problems. Please remember to use the visibility guidelines, as the air monitor in the middle of the Helena Valley may not represent the north side of the valley. Smoke will also be visible in the air over the Big Belts in the morning, but more wet and active weather will both help to clear the smoke and help with firefighting efforts. The forecast from Thursday through early next week calls for a moderate chance of daily precipitation in the Helena area. This will be the wettest weather pattern we have seen in several weeks. Elsewhere across the state, there will also be moderate to good chances for precipitation during this same period. Temperatures will generally fall into the mid- to lower-60s for afternoon highs this weekend. Air quality will remain good as the smoke dissipates.
Several small wildfires are currently burning across parts of western Montana. A fire along the Wise River has been contained, and firefighters are making progress on wildfires near Philipsburg and Winston. At least five new wildfires started today near York in the Big Belt Mountains. Smoke from these fires is rising high and generally blowing to the east over the mountain tops. Any air quality impacts will be very local throughout the night in nearby gulches and the northeast side of the valley.
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




This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. Clouds are increasing across the region ahead of our next wet weather system. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. Clouds are increasing across the region ahead of our next wet weather system.


 
This webcam image shows a close-up view of one of the fires burning near York this afternoon.

This webcam image shows a close-up view of one of the fires burning near York this afternoon.





 




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  
  Moderate

  

  Good

 All 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.