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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:04 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Temperatures are slightly cooler today, generally in the 70s and 80s across the state, with few thunderstorms starting to pop up across far southwestern Montana. Most of the moisture and thunderstorms are south of here, in southern Idaho and Wyoming. Satellite images show smoke around the largest fires, but well-defined plumes have not developed yet, so smoke is just “hanging” over certain areas. Smoke from the Lolo Creek Complex is creating variable air quality in Missoula today. A few hours were at levels that were UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but the latest hour has been GOOD. In Lolo, air quality was HAZARDOUS for several hours late this morning and early afternoon, but the latest hour was also GOOD. In Hamilton, smoke from the Lolo Creek and Gold Pan fires has remained and accumulated in the Bitterroot Valley, and air quality is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke that is left over from yesterday is also creating MODERATE air quality conditions in Butte, Bozeman, and other parts of southwestern Montana. Air quality is GOOD in West Yellowstone, though. In Helena, air quality has been GOOD for most of the day with excellent visibility. Cumulative particulate concentrations are at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but the monitor recorded two erroneous hours late this morning. Air quality in the Helena Valley has certainly been GOOD today. Air quality around the rest of the state, from the eastern plains to the far northwest, has been GOOD today as well.

Air quality will remain UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in the Bitterroot Valley overnight. In Missoula, air quality will be highly variable again as smoke moves in and out of the valley. Much of southwestern and west-central Montana may see up to MODERATE conditions overnight as smoke slowly makes its way east. For tomorrow, monsoonal moisture will stream farther north and into Montana throughout the afternoon, increasing chances for thunderstorms over the mountains. Fire Weather Watches have already been issued for much of western Montana because of hot weather and the potential for strong winds from these thunderstorms. Dispersion will improve with unstable air, so smoke will become better-mixed in the clouds and atmosphere. Air quality will be at least MODERATE over much of western Montana, especially as smoke covers a wider area of western Montana because atmospheric winds will blow from the southwest to the northeast. Friday will be very similar to Thursday, with southwest winds and the chance for thunderstorms. The air will become drier through the weekend and early next week as atmospheric winds continue to blow smoke northeast across Montana.
Smoke from the Lolo Creek Complex is creating variable air quality in Missoula today. A few hours were at levels that were UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but the latest hour has been GOOD. In Lolo, air quality was HAZARDOUS for several hours late this morning and early afternoon, but the latest hour was also GOOD. In Hamilton, smoke from the Lolo Creek and Gold Pan fires has remained and accumulated in the Bitterroot Valley, and air quality is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke that is left over from yesterday is also creating MODERATE air quality conditions in Butte, Bozeman, and other parts of southwestern Montana. Air quality is GOOD in West Yellowstone, though. In Helena, air quality has been GOOD for most of the day with excellent visibility. Cumulative particulate concentrations are at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but the monitor recorded two erroneous hours late this morning. Air quality in the Helena Valley has certainly been GOOD today. Air quality around the rest of the state, from the eastern plains to the far northwest, has been GOOD today as well.
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 3:30 this afternoon. A light area of smoke can be seen across parts of southwestern Montana, as well as heavier, confined areas of smoke in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, near Missoula, and the southern Bitterroot Valley. 

This is the visible satellite image from 3:30 this afternoon. A light area of smoke can be seen across parts of southwestern Montana, as well as heavier, confined areas of smoke in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, near Missoula, and the southern Bitterroot Valley.


 
This webcam in Hamilton shows the smoky conditions this afternoon.

This webcam in Hamilton shows the smoky conditions this afternoon.


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  Hamilton
Missoula
  Moderate

 Butte
Bozeman
 

  Good

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