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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Sunday, August 11, 2013 4:50 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
A very large amount of smoke was produced yesterday primarily in Idaho, but with contributions from Washington and Oregon. More smoke was produced than expected which created air quality impacts in Montana overnight and throughout this afternoon. Air quality reached UNHEALTHY levels for a few hours in Hamilton overnight, and this seems to be the hardest-hit time and area today. Cumulative particulate concentrations are still at UNHEALTHY levels in Hamilton, although hourly concentrations have been either GOOD or MODERATE since 6:00 this morning. Smoke is increasing in the Missoula Valley this afternoon and hourly particulate concentrations are very close to MODERATE at this time. In nearby Frenchtown, air quality has also become MODERATE. This far western end of the state has seen the most ground-level smoke today, in a combination of the wave that passed through overnight and the next wave that is moving over western Montana at this time. That heavy amount of smoke that was produced yesterday afternoon in Idaho was very high in the atmosphere across west-central and central Montana this morning. Skies looked very overcast, but it was actually heavy smoke in the atmosphere, which you could tell because the sun was dim and red through the smoke. With very light winds in the upper-atmosphere, this huge smoke plume has been slow moving and is now just reaching eastern Montana. Despite the overcast skies, air quality has been GOOD under this plume because it is so high in the atmosphere. It is not affecting air quality at the ground below. Showers and thunderstorms are starting to develop again this afternoon over the mountains. Flash Flood Warnings are in effect for parts of central Montana, and Red Flag Warnings remain in effect for southwestern Montana.

As the next round of smoke from wildfires in Idaho is already across the far western border of Montana, we will see more air quality impacts across several valleys in western Montana through the evening. In particular, the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys will see the most ground-level smoke tonight. Air quality may reach levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS this evening, and Hamilton may see a few UNHEALTHY hours overnight again as well. Some MODERATE impacts may be seen across other valleys west of the Continental Divide overnight. Elsewhere, air quality will remain generally GOOD. For tomorrow, the weather remains very persistent again as it has been for the last few days. Parts of west-central and central Montana will see another smoky sunrise but with little to no ground-level smoke. That plume will continue to move east throughout the day. The air will clear in the early morning and afternoon across western Montana and hourly concentrations should become generally GOOD, although cumulative concentrations will read higher than that. Thunderstorms will develop over the mountains by the afternoon hours and smoke from Idaho will start to drift into western Montana by late tomorrow afternoon when we will see air quality impacts again. This same pattern will repeat itself most days this week.
Air quality reached UNHEALTHY levels for a few hours in Hamilton overnight, and this seems to be the hardest-hit time and area today. Cumulative particulate concentrations are still at UNHEALTHY levels in Hamilton, although hourly concentrations have been either GOOD or MODERATE since 6:00 this morning. Smoke is increasing in the Missoula Valley this afternoon and hourly particulate concentrations are very close to MODERATE at this time. In nearby Frenchtown, air quality has also become MODERATE. This far western end of the state has seen the most ground-level smoke today, in a combination of the wave that passed through overnight and the next wave that is moving over western Montana at this time. That heavy amount of smoke that was produced yesterday afternoon in Idaho was very high in the atmosphere across west-central and central Montana this morning. Skies looked very overcast, but it was actually heavy smoke in the atmosphere, which you could tell because the sun was dim and red through the smoke. With very light winds in the upper-atmosphere, this huge smoke plume has been slow moving and is now just reaching eastern Montana. Despite the overcast skies, air quality has been GOOD under this plume because it is so high in the atmosphere. It is not affecting air quality at the ground below. Showers and thunderstorms are starting to develop again this afternoon over the mountains. Flash Flood Warnings are in effect for parts of central Montana, and Red Flag Warnings remain in effect for southwestern Montana.
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 4:00 this afternoon. As we have seen for a few days in a row now, clouds are bubbling up over parts of the region where thunderstorms are developing. The smoke plume is difficult to see in this image, but it is a large swath from southeastern Montana and up through the Rocky Mountain Front in Canada. The black line across the state is just a mistake from the satellite and does not change the picture. 

This is the visible satellite image from 4:00 this afternoon. As we have seen for a few days in a row now, clouds are bubbling up over parts of the region where thunderstorms are developing. The smoke plume is difficult to see in this image, but it is a large swath from southeastern Montana and up through the Rocky Mountain Front in Canada. The black line across the state is just a mistake from the satellite and does not change the picture.


 
While this is certainly not as bad as last summer, this is the smokiest day that Hamilton has seen this year.

While this is certainly not as bad as last summer, this is the smokiest day that Hamilton has seen this year.


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  Hamilton B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  
  Moderate

 Frenchtown B24, B8, B1
Missoula B8
 

  Good

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

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.