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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, August 15, 2013 3:50 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality remains GOOD at reporting locations at this hour, but smoke is becoming visible in various places. Across west-central and central Montana, haze is visible in the air from a number of distant wildfire sources. However, this smoke is both high enough in the atmosphere and in relatively small concentrations that air quality is not being affected at the ground. The areas of most concern are the ones mentioned this morning. Wildfire activity is increasing this afternoon across Idaho, as well as the Eureka fire in far southwestern Montana. Smoke has become visible in West Yellowstone from the Eureka fire and particulate concentrations are going up. Smoke is close to reaching the far western Montana border next to the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys.

This is the Eureka fire in a remote location in the Gravelly Mountain Range. Given the direction of atmospheric winds today, smoke may become visible in the Madison Valley, West Yellowstone area, the Paradise Valley, and possibly as far north at Bozeman. Air quality may reach MODERATE levels later this afternoon because of this fire. Other fires, particularly across Idaho, may also impact air quality across other parts of southwestern and far western Montana this afternoon. Generally, from Missoula over to Great Falls and southward, this region of the state has the highest chance of air quality impacts today. Only MODERATE impacts are expected, but there may be localized areas that reach UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS for a time this evening. Elsewhere, air quality will be generally GOOD under clear, hot skies. Friday will be another active fire day, with more hot and dry weather conditions, as well as increased wind. Cumulative particulate concentrations will probably start out as MODERATE for much of western and southwestern Montana on Friday morning. Some valleys may see smoke settle overnight, where air quality may be UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS by Friday morning. There will be a brief reprieve before the next round of smoke starts up by early Friday afternoon. Western Montana, save for the far northwest, will see more smoke as fire activity increases. Saturday will also be an active fire day with continued breezy winds, even though temperatures will be slightly cooler and relative humidity values will be slightly higher. Friday and Saturday look to be the smokiest days of the week with such critical fire weather. More unstable air will move into the region by Sunday and Monday as atmospheric winds blow from west to east. There will probably still be air quality impacts by early next week, but unsettled weather and improved dispersion conditions may help to reduce air quality impacts. There does not appear to be any change in the weather patterns yet in the long-term forecasts that would significantly reduce fire activity.
Air quality remains GOOD at reporting locations at this hour, but smoke is becoming visible in various places. Across west-central and central Montana, haze is visible in the air from a number of distant wildfire sources. However, this smoke is both high enough in the atmosphere and in relatively small concentrations that air quality is not being affected at the ground. The areas of most concern are the ones mentioned this morning. Wildfire activity is increasing this afternoon across Idaho, as well as the Eureka fire in far southwestern Montana. Smoke has become visible in West Yellowstone from the Eureka fire and particulate concentrations are going up. Smoke is close to reaching the far western Montana border next to the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys.
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 3:00 this afternoon. Smoke plumes are becoming visible over central Idaho, as well as from the Eureka fire west of West Yellowstone, MT. 

This is the visible satellite image from 3:00 this afternoon. Smoke plumes are becoming visible over central Idaho, as well as from the Eureka fire west of West Yellowstone, MT.


 
This webcam image in West Yellowstone shows the smoke blowing in from the Eureka fire about 40 miles to the west.

This webcam image in West Yellowstone shows the smoke blowing in from the Eureka fire about 40 miles to the west.


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  
  Moderate

  

  Good

 All reporting locations 

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.