Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 16, 2013 9:03 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
There is a large amount of wildfire smoke high in the atmosphere over most of Montana this morning. The heaviest smoke is right over central Montana, but almost every location is seeing at least some haze. Because this smoke is so high in the atmosphere, most of it is not affecting air quality at ground-level and observing locations show GOOD air over most of the state. Cumulative particulate concentrations have become MODERATE in Hamilton, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD. Thankfully, the worst air quality across the state seems to be in remote locations, like the valleys in the Bob Marshall Wilderness around the Red Shale fire, and between the Gravelly and Snowcrest Mountain Ranges around the Eureka fire. Satellite images this morning show that the Eureka fire is still actively burning, creating a large smoke plume that is blowing just north of West Yellowstone.

Fire activity will be high today with hot, dry, windy weather conditions. The Eureka fire will keep burning throughout the day, increasing in intensity by the afternoon. Downwind locations will be the southern Madison Valley, West Yellowstone, the Paradise Valley, Red Lodge, and beyond. Other fires across the state will also pick up in intensity by this afternoon, creating definite smoke plumes that will rise high in the sky. Similarly, Idaho fires will do the same, with smoke arriving just a little bit later across western Montana and spreading east throughout the evening. Smoke is generally expected to remain high in the atmosphere and only minimally affect air quality this afternoon. However, MODERATE impacts are possible in the Bitterroot, Big Hole, and Madison Valleys, as well as the West Yellowstone area late this afternoon. Air quality should also stay GOOD across eastern Montana as this morning’s large smoke plume moves east.
There will be another update this afternoon with an update on fire activity, smoke, and a full air quality and weather forecast.
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 8:00 this morning. You can clearly see a lot of smoke over much of Montana, Wyoming, and even in the valleys of central Idaho. At least over Montana, most of this smoke is high in the atmosphere and though it may be very visible, it is generally not affecting air quality at the ground. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:00 this morning. You can clearly see a lot of smoke over much of Montana, Wyoming, and even in the valleys of central Idaho. At least over Montana, most of this smoke is high in the atmosphere and though it may be very visible, it is generally not affecting air quality at the ground.


 
Skies look very smoky over Billings this morning as that large smoke plume, which is high in the atmosphere, moves over eastern Montana.

Skies look very smoky over Billings this morning as that large smoke plume, which is high in the atmosphere, moves over eastern Montana.





 




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

 Hamilton B24, B8
(hourly averages are GOOD)
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Frenchtown
Missoula
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
Lewistown
Malta
Billings
Birney
Broadus
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.