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Wildfire Smoke Update
Thursday, August 22, 2013 9:19 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions

Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Around the state as a whole, air quality is generally GOOD this morning. There is some smoke visible high in the atmosphere over central and eastern Montana this morning, but this smoke is not affecting air quality at ground-level. Cumulative particulate concentrations are MODERATE in Helena, Butte, and Bozeman, and are believed to be across much of southwestern Montana. However, hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD all day today in these locations and visibility is great. Of course, the smokiest areas of the state are the far western valleys and around the Paradise Valley. Air quality is HAZARDOUS in Lolo this morning and has been for most of the day. The last two reported hours in Missoula reached UNHEALTHY levels after being generally GOOD all night. In Hamilton, cumulative particulate concentrations are at UNHEALTHY levels, but smoke has steadily decreased throughout the morning; hourly concentrations are wavering between GOOD and MODERATE. Low, overcast clouds are over much of western Montana, so it is not possible to see the extent of the ground-level smoke across western Montana. We can, however, see some smoke in the Paradise Valley this morning, where air quality is believed to be at least UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Webcam images in Livingston and Gardiner show good visibility, so the heaviest smoke should be right over the middle section of the valley.

Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches are in effect for parts of western Montana today, and as far west as Oregon and northern California. The chance for thunderstorms, and the lightning and wind generated from these thunderstorms, is the main threat today, combined with hot afternoon temperatures. In Missoula, Lolo, and the northern Bitterroot Valley, air quality will be variable throughout the day, especially if thunderstorms develop nearby and create strong winds. Use VISIBILITY GUIDELINES to monitor air quality at any given moment. In the southern Bitterroot/Hamilton area, air quality will continue to slowly improve throughout the late morning. Cumulative particulate concentrations may remain at UNHEALTHY levels, but hourly concentrations should not reach such high levels today. At any given hour, air quality should be generally GOOD to MODERATE. Air quality will remain generally GOOD across the rest of the state today. This forecast is subject to sudden change if thunderstorms start and/or spread wildfires this afternoon and evening.
There will be another update 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.

Air Quality Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Phone: (406) 444-3490
Email: DEQ-ARMB-Admin@mt.gov

This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning.

This webcam in Stevensville, on the northern end of the Bitterroot Valley, shows very heavy smoke this morning.

This webcam in Stevensville, on the northern end of the Bitterroot Valley, shows very heavy smoke this morning.


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  Missoula
Hamilton B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  

 Helena B24
Butte B24
Bozeman B24
(all hourly concentrations are GOOD)


Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
West Yellowstone

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.