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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, July 19, 2013 3:36 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
It’s another hot and dry afternoon today. Winds have been moderate out of the west and northwest with some stronger gusts over 25 mph along the east side of the Continental Divide. Winds have not been quite as strong in northwestern Montana, which delayed the dispersion of the smoke from the town of Superior and surrounding locations. Monitored air quality reached HAZARDOUS levels before abruptly dropping to levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Air quality should remain in this MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS level throughout the afternoon and early evening as smoke from the West Mullan fire blows more distinctly east. Elsewhere, smoke plumes in Idaho are becoming visible on satellite images, and a few of those fires are upwind of western Montana. In particular, the Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys may see MODERATE smoke impacts tonight from these fires this evening. However, current air quality observations are GOOD this afternoon.

The weather this weekend will be more favorable for increased fire activity with hot, dry air, and afternoon breezes. New and so far small fires have popped up across Idaho in the last couple of days. These fires began as lightning strikes from a few days ago, but only begin to actively burn once hot and dry weather moves in. Because we are expecting hot and dry weather conditions this weekend across the Northern Rockies, we may see new wildfires pop up because of the lightning we got in the middle of this week. These new fires may cause air quality conditions to rapidly change and will alter the air quality forecasts depending on their severity and location. DEQ will continue to monitor the fire activity. In the meantime, with the known fires in western Montana and Idaho, MODERATE air quality impacts are most likely to be seen along the Bitterroot Valley, Missoula, Superior and surrounding valleys, and as far as Seeley Lake and parts of the Swan Valley. Elsewhere, smoke will be visible across most of southwestern and central Montana. Only far northwestern Montana will remain the most smoke-free. A weather system moving through on Monday will increase winds and thus increase fire activity and smoke across the region. MODERATE smoke impacts may spread into more locations in western Montana.
It’s another hot and dry afternoon today. Winds have been moderate out of the west and northwest with some stronger gusts over 25 mph along the east side of the Continental Divide. Monitored air quality conditions are currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Superior, and GOOD in all other locations. Smoke from fires in central Idaho and western Montana will blow east throughout the evening.
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. Circled in red are the smoke plumes that are clearly visible on this image. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:45 this afternoon. Circled in red are the smoke plumes that are clearly visible on this image.


 
This is the Ninemile webcam on I-90, about 20 miles southeast of Superior and the West Mullan fire. Smoke is visible here, too, and will continue to be throughout the weekend.

This is the Ninemile webcam on I-90, about 20 miles southeast of Superior and the West Mullan fire. Smoke is visible here, too, and will continue to be throughout the weekend.


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 

Fires in Idaho are producing noticeable smoke over the Missoula Valley, but air quality currently remains GOOD.

Fires in Idaho are producing noticeable smoke over the Missoula Valley, but air quality currently remains GOOD.

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  Superior
  Moderate

 Frenchtown B24, B8
Seeley Lake B24
(1-hour concentrations have been GOOD)
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Missoula
Hamilton
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
Billings
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.