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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 2:30 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Although there are no reported wildfires currently burning in Montana, we have seen hazy skies all over the state yesterday and today. The haze is being caused by wildfire smoke, but there are several sources. With the very hot temperatures day after day, the atmosphere has been rather “stagnant.” The air in the atmosphere has remained somewhat stationary over the western US. Wildfire smoke has slowly accumulated in this stagnant airmass from wildfires in Alaska, northern Canada, Quebec, the desert southwest, and even parts of the south. In fact, Montana is not the only state experiencing haze from all of these wildfire sources; almost the entire western 2/3 of the United States and much of Canada has at least a light haze as well. Despite the noticeable haze, air quality remains generally GOOD across the state. Hourly particulate concentrations have been good at all reporting locations, but cumulative (24 hour) concentrations have reached MODERATE levels in Sidney and the Flathead Valley.

The haze and heat will ease up throughout the rest of the week. A weather system and cold front will move slowly across the Northern Rockies over the next couple of days, stirring up and moving this hot and stagnant airmass. Air quality will become GOOD in all locations again by tomorrow afternoon. There will be a daily chance for isolated thunderstorms through the weekend for locations east of the Divide and the Department will watch for any lightning-caused wildfires and consequent air quality problems.
The haze that we have seen for the past couple of days is due to a buildup of smoke in the atmosphere from wildfires all over the country and parts of Canada. In fact, almost 2/3 of the country is currently experiencing at least a light yet visible haze in the sky. Despite the slight decrease in long-range visibility, air quality remains generally GOOD across the state.
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 2:00 this afternoon. Skies were mostly cloudy throughout the day, but clouds are now starting to develop in the heat of the day across parts of southwestern Montana. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon. Skies were mostly cloudy throughout the day, but clouds are now starting to develop in the heat of the day across parts of southwestern Montana.


 
This webcam image was captured in the Flathead Valley this morning. You can clearly see the haze that has affected long-range visibility in this part of the state.

This webcam image was captured in the Flathead Valley this morning. You can clearly see the haze that has affected long-range visibility in this part of the state.


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. Green represents thin smoke, yellow is moderate smoke, and pink is dense smoke. 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  
  Moderate

 Sidney B24
Flathead Valley B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Hamilton
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
Great Falls
West Yellowstone
Billings
 

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.