Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:58 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Heavy smoke traveled east across the state again last night, most notably from the fires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Lolo Creek Complex, Miner Paradise Complex, and central Idaho. With the wind direction, parts of the Missoula Valley were spared from heavy smoke yesterday evening and overnight. Cumulative particulate concentrations in Missoula are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but hourly concentrations are GOOD. On the south side of town and into Lolo, heavy smoke has settled into the valley. The Forest Service has set up a temporary air monitor in Lolo, and this morning, monitored air quality is up to HAZARDOUS levels and has been for the last 5 hours. That heavy smoke is also spreading south into the Bitterroot Valley, while at the same time, smoke from the Gold Pan fire is spreading north into the Bitterroot Valley. Satellite images show heavy smoke all along the valley, and monitored air quality in Hamilton is close to MODERATE levels this morning. With smoke coming in from both sides, air quality will be worse as you move both north and south from Hamilton. Smoke from central Idaho also drifted across parts of western and southwestern Montana yesterday evening and some of it settled into the valleys near Deer Lodge, Philipsburg, and Butte. Monitored air quality in Butte this morning has been close to MODERATE each hour, and cumulative concentrations are MODERATE when averaged over the last 24 hours. Visibility has improved in Livingston this morning as compared to yesterday morning, but there are likely air quality impacts in the Paradise Valley. Most other observing locations are seeing GOOD air quality at all hours this morning around the state, including the Flathead Valley, Helena, Great Falls, and Billings.

An approaching weather disturbance will provide subtle changes that will lead to slightly less fire activity for Montana’s fires. Relative humidity values will be slightly higher this afternoon with lighter winds. There will be a very slight chance for isolated thunderstorms over the mountains in southwest Montana this afternoon, but the highest chance will be to our southwest in Idaho, which is why they have Red Flag Warnings today. We are still expecting wildfire smoke to drift across the state later this afternoon and this evening as fire activity picks up in the afternoon. Smoke will still take a general west-to-east path this evening. Air quality will be highly variable in Missoula again throughout the day, ranging from GOOD to UNHEALTHY at times. Please use the VISIBILITY GUIDELINES to watch for changes in air quality. Air quality will remain generally MODERATE in Hamilton and much of the Bitterroot Valley as smoke slowly rises out of the valley throughout the day before the next round comes this evening. Smoke will also rise out of the valleys in and around Deer Lodge, Philipsburg, and Butte throughout the day, when air quality will become GOOD again. Air quality in and around Red Lodge may become MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS with smoke coming from the Miner Paradise Complex to the west and the new Rock Creek fire to the south. Smoke will settle into many valleys in western and southwestern Montana this evening and overnight, creating air quality that may become MODERATE for several hours overnight, including towns like Helena, Butte, and Bozeman.
There will be another update later this afternoon with a full 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 7:30 this morning. You can see a large swath of high-atmospheric smoke over much of southwestern and eastern Montana. This smoke is not affecting ground-level air quality. You can also see smoke that has settled into the Bitterroot Valley, parts of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as well as lighter ground-level smoke around Deer Lodge, Philipsburg, and Butte. 

This is the visible satellite image from 7:30 this morning. You can see a large swath of high-atmospheric smoke over much of southwestern and eastern Montana. This smoke is not affecting ground-level air quality. You can also see smoke that has settled into the Bitterroot Valley, parts of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as well as lighter ground-level smoke around Deer Lodge, Philipsburg, and Butte.


 
This webcam in Hamilton shows the smoky conditions in parts of the Bitterroot Valley this morning.

This webcam in Hamilton shows the smoky conditions in parts of the Bitterroot Valley this morning.


Likewise in Anaconda, you can see some smoke in the valley here, although it is not nearly as much as locations just to the west.

Likewise in Anaconda, you can see some smoke in the valley here, although it is not nearly as much as locations just to the west.

Red indicates hot spot detected. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. 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  Lolo
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Helena B24
Missoula B24
(hourly concentrations are GOOD)
  Moderate

 Hamilton B24, B8
Butte B24, B8
Bozeman B24, B8
Birney B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Seeley Lake
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
Billings
Broadus
Malta
Lewistown
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.