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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 16, 2013 3:45 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Skies are very smoky across much of the state today. We are steadily starting to see air quality impacts today, although these are cumulative impacts. Air quality, when averaged over the last 24 hours, is MODERATE in Hamilton, Frenchtown, and West Yellowstone. Although the monitor is acting up a bit, it is believed that we have MODERATE cumulative impacts in Missoula as well. Hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD at these locations today, although they are noticeably higher. Hourly particulate concentrations have increased across much of western Montana as well this afternoon. We also saw heavy smoke in the I-90 corridor from Clinton to Drummond where air quality was likely up to UNHEALTHY levels at certain points, thanks to the new Nimrod fire; much of that smoke as since lifted this afternoon.

Air quality will likely reach widespread MODERATE levels across much of western and southwestern Montana tonight, including Helena, Bozeman, and Livingston. Saturday will be another active fire day with continued warm temperatures and another round of afternoon winds. Temperatures will be slightly cooler and relative humidity values will be slightly higher, but overall, we are still looking at hot, dry conditions. There is also the slight chance for an isolated thunderstorm to develop. Any thunderstorm should be dry (no rain reaching the ground) but winds around the storm will be gusty. Atmospheric winds will blow directly from west to east, so parts of northwestern Montana should see a decrease in smoke. The heaviest smoke will be from Missoula to Helena to Great Falls and south. The Rocky Mountain Front will also see a smoke plume from the Red Shale Fire. Smoke from the Eureka fire should blow directly over West Yellowstone and then into Wyoming. Overall, particularly over the southern half of the state, with an emphasis on the southwest corner, air quality should become increasingly MODERATE on Saturday. Places like far western Montana (Missoula/Bitterroot Valleys) and West Yellowstone may see cumulative levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS since they are the closest locations downwind of large wildfires. Atmospheric winds will continue to blow west-to-east on Sunday. Fire weather will slowly ease as temperatures cool off a little bit more (but still above seasonal averages) and relative humidity values increase as well. There will be another chance for afternoon thunderstorms, and the southern half of the state will likely see the most smoke impacts. The weather will remain fairly persistent from Sunday through the middle of next week. A weather system by the middle to end of next week will be our best chance in the near-term for rain and more favorable weather.
Skies are very smoky across much of the state today. We are steadily starting to see air quality impacts today, although these are cumulative impacts. Air quality, when averaged over the last 24 hours, is MODERATE in Hamilton, Frenchtown, and West Yellowstone. Although the monitor is acting up a bit, it is believed that we have MODERATE cumulative impacts in Missoula as well. Hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD at these locations today, although they are noticeably higher. Hourly particulate concentrations have increased across much of western Montana as well this afternoon. We also saw heavy smoke in the I-90 corridor from Clinton to Drummond where air quality was likely up to UNHEALTHY levels at certain points, thanks to the new Nimrod fire; much of that smoke as since lifted this afternoon.
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. A large area of smoke, from this morning, is still sitting over parts of eastern Montana. This smoke has actually been thick enough to keep temperatures cooler underneath it! We also have smoke plumes growing and blowing to the northeast across central Idaho. The plumes from the Eureka fire and Red Shale fire are somewhat obscured by clouds, but they are certainly there. 

This is the visible satellite image from 3:00 this afternoon. A large area of smoke, from this morning, is still sitting over parts of eastern Montana. This smoke has actually been thick enough to keep temperatures cooler underneath it! We also have smoke plumes growing and blowing to the northeast across central Idaho. The plumes from the Eureka fire and Red Shale fire are somewhat obscured by clouds, but they are certainly there.


 
Air quality is quickly approaching MODERATE levels in the Helena Valley this afternoon. The North Hills are still visible in this webcam image, but barely. When they are not visible anymore from town, air quality is MODERATE.

Air quality is quickly approaching <a href="http://www.deq.mt.gov/FireUpdates/SmokeCategories.mcpx">MODERATE</a> levels in the Helena Valley this afternoon. The North Hills are still visible in this webcam image, but barely. When they are not visible anymore from town, air quality is <a href="http://www.deq.mt.gov/FireUpdates/SmokeCategories.mcpx">MODERATE</a>.


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 

Smoke is creating hazy conditions in Hamilton this afternoon.

Smoke is creating hazy conditions in Hamilton this afternoon.

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
Frenchtown B24
Missoula
West Yellowstone B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
Great Falls
Billings
Lewistown
Malta
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.