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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:24 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
We are experiencing hot and dry conditions this afternoon as forecasted. Temperatures are generally in the high 80s and 90s with relative humidity values in the teens and single digits. These weather conditions have allowed wildfires to burn actively in Montana and Idaho. There are now three known wildfires in Montana: the West Mullan fire, Gold Creek fire, and a small wildfire burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. West winds are pushing smoke directly to the east, but we are not seeing big air quality impacts at this time. Smoke levels continue to fluctuate in the town of Superior as morning inversions and afternoon winds move smoke around to cause highly variable air quality conditions. The latest observation shows that the air is GOOD in Superior. Elsewhere across the state, all hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD today. Only cumulative smoke impacts, averaged over the past 24-hours, are MODERATE in Frenchtown, Missoula, and Sidney.

There will be a few more hours of hot and dry conditions today where fires will be able to burn well. That smoke will continue to push east and will become visible to more communities this evening. Smoke will be visible in the Swan and Mission Valleys, the Bitterroot Valley, much of Beaverhead County, and off the Rocky Mountain Front. This smoke will stay generally high in the atmosphere so as not to greatly affect air quality at the ground far downwind. However, some of that smoke will mix to the ground later this afternoon and settle toward the ground as the air cools overnight. MODERATE impacts are possible in the aforementioned locations, as well as Frenchtown and Missoula. Tomorrow’s weather will be very similar to today with hot and dry conditions. Smoke plumes will become visible and well-defined again by the afternoon and will drift to the east in roughly the same locations. Air quality will remain generally GOOD across the state, with some locations of MODERATE impacts. These locations will be the ones closest to the Montana and Idaho wildfires. Monday will be another hot and dry day but a weather disturbance will pass through the Northern Rockies. This will generate more gusty winds than we saw over the weekend which will create more favorable conditions for fire and smoke production. Skies may become even smokier by Monday evening as the day-to-day smoke compounds to slowly create more air quality problems. Again, with these types of weather conditions, pop-up fires will be very possible, which we will keep an eye on and adjust forecasts as necessary.
We are experiencing hot and dry conditions this afternoon as forecasted. Temperatures are generally in the high 80s and 90s with relative humidity values in the teens and single digits. These weather conditions have allowed wildfires to burn actively in Montana and Idaho. West winds are pushing smoke directly to the east, but we are not seeing big air quality impacts at this time. Smoke levels continue to fluctuate in the town of Superior as morning inversions and afternoon winds move smoke around to cause highly variable air quality conditions. The latest observation shows that the air is GOOD in Superior. Elsewhere across the state, all hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD today. Only cumulative smoke impacts, averaged over the past 24-hours, are MODERATE in Frenchtown, Missoula, and Sidney.
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 4:30 this afternoon. Hot and dry conditions have allowed fires in western Montana and Idaho to burn actively today. You can see the large smoke plume over the southern Mission Valley from the West Mullan fire, a small fire that has started in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and at least five other smoke plumes in central and eastern Idaho. 

This is the visible satellite image from 4:30 this afternoon. Hot and dry conditions have allowed fires in western Montana and Idaho to burn actively today. You can see the large smoke plume over the southern Mission Valley from the West Mullan fire, a small fire that has started in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and  at least five other smoke plumes in central and eastern Idaho.


 
This webcam in the Bitterroot Valley near Stevensville shows smoky conditions coming into the central valley from the California Point fire just over the border in Idaho.

This webcam in the Bitterroot Valley near Stevensville shows smoky conditions coming into the central valley from the California Point fire just over the border in Idaho.


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 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 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  
  Moderate

 Frenchtown B24
Missoula B24
Sidney B24
(hourly concentrations have been GOOD)
 

  Good

 Superior
Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Hamilton
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
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.