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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Saturday, August 17, 2013 6:19 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Yet another large smoke plume moved across the state yesterday evening and overnight, causing widespread MODERATE conditions. Today, under continued hot and dry conditions, cumulative MODERATE air quality, when averaged over the last 24-hours, is still widespread. This level of air quality has been measured at Frenchtown, Hamilton, Seeley Lake, Helena, Butte, Bozeman, Great Falls, Lewistown, Billings, and Broadus. However, hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD almost all day at all of these sites. Air quality has remained GOOD over the last 24 hours at Libby, the Flathead Valley, Missoula, West Yellowstone, Malta, Birney, and Sidney. There are certainly more clouds in the sky today, and some thunderstorms have developed in parts of western Montana.

Thunderstorms will continue to pop up throughout the evening as we await yet another round of heavy smoke primarily from Idaho. However, we of course have our own growing fires which are generally in remote areas of western Montana. This smoke will rise high in the atmosphere again and will be slightly more “disguised” by the extra cloud-cover. With more unstable weather, dispersion will be generally good, too, so we will see less air quality impacts tonight. Only parts of far western and southwestern Montana, from the Bitterroot Valley to West Yellowstone, will see the heaviest ground-level smoke, where the air may become MODERATE for some hours this evening. Overall, cumulative MODERATE air quality is possible across much of the state for the next day as well, with mostly GOOD air hour-to-hour. On Sunday, the atmosphere will remain unstable and the chance for thunderstorms will increase slightly. And unstable atmosphere will continue to provide good dispersion, so wildfire smoke will become better-mixed in the air. Air quality should remain generally GOOD across the state, with some MODERATE impacts across the southwest. High atmospheric winds will blow directly from west to east, so most of the northern half of Montana should stay generally smoke-free. The weather will be warm and dry early next week with atmospheric winds continuing to blow smoke west to east. By Thursday, the weather pattern will change and the air will become more unstable and bring more moisture to the region. Chances for more widespread, afternoon thunderstorms will increase again for the end of the week.
Today, under continued hot and dry conditions, cumulative MODERATE air quality, when averaged over the last 24-hours, is still widespread. This level of air quality has been measured at Frenchtown, Hamilton, Seeley Lake, Helena, Butte, Bozeman, Great Falls, Lewistown, Billings, and Broadus. However, hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD almost all day at all of these sites. Air quality has remained GOOD over the last 24 hours at Libby, the Flathead Valley, Missoula, West Yellowstone, Malta, Birney, and Sidney. There are certainly more clouds in the sky today, and some thunderstorms have developed in parts of western 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 6:00 this evening. Clouds are much heavier across the state today, which makes it hard to see smoke plumes. 

This is the visible satellite image from 6:00 this evening. Clouds are much heavier across the state today, which makes it hard to see smoke plumes.


 
This webcam at the Gates of the Mountains overlooks the Helena area. Not only can we see the clouds, but with webcam images, we can see the smoke and haze that is underneath the clouds, which is obscuring long-range visibility.

This webcam at the Gates of the Mountains overlooks the Helena area. Not only can we see the clouds, but with webcam images, we can see the smoke and haze that is underneath the clouds, which is obscuring long-range visibility.


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

 Frenchtown B24
Hamilton B24
Seeley Lake B24
Helena B24
Butte B24
Bozeman B24
Great Falls B24
Lewistown B24
Billings B24
Broadus B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Missoula
West Yellowstone
Malta
Birney
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.