Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Temperatures have warmed up to the mid-80s and 90s across the state this afternoon. Relative humidity values have likewise dropped into the teens and 20s under mostly clear skies. Winds have been light to moderate across western Montana, and strong across far eastern Montana. Air quality has remained GOOD across most of the state, despite some haze that was visible off the Rocky Mountain Front, the Helena Valley, and Bozeman area. Hourly particulate concentrations have also remained GOOD in Frenchtown and Missoula today, despite some overnight smoke impacts from nearby wildfires. Though air quality can be variable so close to a wildfire, the most current observation is MODERATE particulate concentrations in the town of Superior where the West Mullan fire burns very nearby.

As temperatures and winds come down overnight, smoke will likely settle back in to Superior and the surrounding valley. Air quality may become UNHEALTHY at times overnight and into the early morning hours. Smoke may also spread as far as Frenchtown where we may expect MODERATE impacts, with minor haze in the Missoula Valley. Other valleys to the east and southeast of the West Mullan and Gold Creek fires may see hazy skies tonight and tomorrow morning, but air quality should remain GOOD. This includes the Ovando, Helena, Deer Lodge, and Bozeman areas.

The weather will remain very persistent for the next several days as a hot dome of high pressure sits over the west. Daytime highs will be near or above 90 degrees with low relative humidities. Winds will stay light to moderate with some strong afternoon gusts. Yesterday’s thunderstorms brought several thousand lightning strikes to much of western Montana, and with hot and dry weather from Friday through early next week, it is possible that more wildfires will pop up in the next few days. DEQ will watch for those fires and adjust air quality forecasts accordingly. In the meantime, any air quality impacts will remain confined to the southwestern quadrant of the state as high atmospheric winds blow generally to the east and southeast. Air quality will remain GOOD outside of the immediate areas near our two wildfires. There we will continue to see impacts that range from MODERATE to UNHEALTHY overnight in Superior. With the prevailing wind direction, wildfires in Idaho will have little impact on our air quality for the next few days.
Temperatures have warmed up to the mid-80s and 90s across the state this afternoon. Relative humidity values have likewise dropped into the teens and 20s under mostly clear skies. Winds have been light to moderate across western Montana, and strong across far eastern Montana. Air quality has remained GOOD across most of the state, despite some haze that was visible off the Rocky Mountain Front, the Helena Valley, and Bozeman area. Hourly particulate concentrations have also remained GOOD in Frenchtown and Missoula today, despite some overnight smoke impacts from nearby wildfires. Though air quality can be variable so close to a wildfire, the most current observation is MODERATE particulate concentrations in the town of Superior where the West Mullan fire burns very nearby.
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 2:45 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear, yet smoke from the West Mullan fire is visible in far western Montana. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:45 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear, yet smoke from the West Mullan fire is visible in far western Montana.


 
Visibility has improved over the Helena Valley since this morning thanks to better smoke dispersion and a higher sun angle. Low sun angles can often exaggerate the appearance of smoke in the air.

Visibility has improved over the Helena Valley since this morning thanks to better smoke dispersion and a higher sun angle. Low sun angles can often exaggerate the appearance of smoke in the air.


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 purple 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  Frenchtown B24 (1-hour concentrations have been GOOD for the last 8 hours)
  Moderate

 Superior

Missoula B24 (1-hour concentrations have been GOOD all day)
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Hamilton
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
Seeley Lake
Great Falls
Billings
West Yellowstone
Sidney
 

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.