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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, July 22, 2013 9:00 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Because of technical difficulties, this page was not updated yesterday on July 21, so let’s get caught back up. Yesterday, temperatures were very hot again with very low humidity values across Montana and Idaho. In fact, a couple new fires started up, including the Emigrant fire in the Paradise Valley, and the Gold Pan fire southwest of Darby in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness. The Gold Pan fire in particular created a very large smoke plume yesterday afternoon that covered the southern Bitterroot Valley, was visible from Hamilton, and reached at least as far east as Ennis before the sun went down. The fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness created a large smoke plume that stretched across much of central Montana, and the new Emigrant fire also made a large smoke plume that stretched across parts of southern Montana. West winds pushed smoke from fires in southern Idaho into Wyoming instead of Montana. Despite the presence of all of this smoke, air quality as of 8:00 this morning is GOOD at all observing locations in Montana. Smoke plumes reached very high in the atmosphere yesterday and kept the air at the ground generally clear because of it. Smoke is visible high in the atmosphere in some places this morning, but again, air quality is generally GOOD. Even Superior, MT, has reported GOOD air for the past 3 hours after reaching UNHEALTHY levels overnight. A webcam image near Livingston (below) suggests that there may be smoke in the Paradise Valley this morning from a combination of the Emigrant fire and from fires in Idaho yesterday.

We should see some pretty good fire activity today. The air will be hot and dry again and a disturbance will pass through during the afternoon. This disturbance may generate some isolated thunderstorms, particularly across northern Montana, but the biggest effect will be the wind. Afternoon winds will reach 10-20 mph with a few strong gusts possible. Winds will push smoke generally to the east again, so the same locations that saw smoke in the air yesterday will probably see it again today. This includes the southern Bitterroot, southwestern Montana, the Rocky Mountain Front, the Paradise Valley, Red Lodge area, and the Mission and Swan Valleys. Air quality should remain generally GOOD throughout the afternoon across the state. However, air quality may range all the way to UNHEALTHY for short periods of time in Superior as smoke conditions in mountainous terrain can be highly variable near the source fire.
There will be another smoke update this afternoon with a look ahead at potential fire activity, weather, and air quality throughout the week.
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 Sunday, July 21, around 6:00 PM. This image shows several large smoke plumes across western Montana and Idaho. 

This is the visible satellite image from Sunday, July 21, around 6:00 PM. This image shows several large smoke plumes across western Montana and Idaho.


 
This webcam image near Livingston looks towards the Absaroka Mountain Range. Captured this morning, this image shows the smoke that may be from the nearby Emigrant fire, and possibly leftover from several fires in Idaho yesterday.

This webcam image near Livingston looks towards the Absaroka Mountain Range. Captured this morning, this image shows the smoke that may be from the nearby Emigrant fire, and possibly leftover from several fires in Idaho yesterday.





 




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

 Superior
Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Frenchtown
Missoula
Hamilton
Butte
Bozeman
Great Falls
Helena
Billings
Sidney
Birney
West Yellowstone
 

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.