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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, August 22, 2013 3:51 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Thunderstorms are starting to develop across southwestern Montana this afternoon. Air quality has been variable in Missoula today; the latest hour showed particulate concentrations at MODERATE levels, while the cumulative exposure is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke lifted out of Lolo and the northern Bitterroot Valley just before noon today, and air quality has been MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, after being HAZARDOUS for many hours early today. Smoke levels have remained nearly constant in Hamilton throughout the day, as hourly particulate concentrations have been MODERATE. Cumulative particulate concentrations are still at UNHEALTHY levels. Particulate levels jumped late this morning and early this afternoon in the Flathead Valley to levels that are MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Aside from some cumulatively MODERATE exposures across southwestern Montana, air quality is GOOD at all other locations around the state.

Air quality will remain variable in Missoula, while HAZARDOUS conditions will return to Lolo overnight. Air quality will remain MODERATE in Hamilton throughout the night, with cumulative concentrations remaining at UNHEALTHY levels. Other parts of far southwestern Montana may see MODERATE smoke conditions overnight, but air quality is expected to remain generally GOOD through tomorrow morning for most of the state. Conditions are subject to change rapidly in the event that a thunderstorm either starts a new fire or increases fire activity of an existing fire. Because thunderstorms remain in the forecast on Friday, Red Flag Warnings are still in effect until tomorrow night. Atmospheric winds will blow from the southwest to northeast. Generally good dispersion with an unstable atmosphere will keep the air quality clear for most of the state, save for locations near or immediately downwind of active wildfires. A weak cold front will pass tomorrow evening which will increase wind speeds and possibly increase fire activity. Temperatures will remain above average over the weekend and early next week despite this cold front. The atmosphere will remain somewhat moist and unstable through early next week, which will keep thunderstorms in the forecast.
Thunderstorms are starting to develop across southwestern Montana this afternoon. Air quality has been variable in Missoula today; the latest hour showed particulate concentrations at MODERATE levels, while the cumulative exposure is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke lifted out of Lolo and the northern Bitterroot Valley just before noon today, and air quality has been MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, after being HAZARDOUS for many hours early today. Smoke levels have remained nearly constant in Hamilton throughout the day, as hourly particulate concentrations have been MODERATE. Cumulative particulate concentrations are still at UNHEALTHY levels. Particulate levels jumped late this morning and early this afternoon in the Flathead Valley to levels that are MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Aside from some cumulatively MODERATE exposures across southwestern Montana, air quality is GOOD at all other locations around the state.
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 2:45 this afternoon. Thunderstorms are starting to spread into southwestern Montana at this time. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:45 this afternoon. Thunderstorms are starting to spread into southwestern Montana at this time.


 
The webcam in Stevensville in the Bitterroot Valley shows and improvement in air quality and visibility this afternoon.

The webcam in Stevensville in the Bitterroot Valley shows and improvement in air quality and visibility 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  Hamilton B24
Missoula B8
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Flathead Valley B8
  Moderate

 Lolo
Butte B24
Bozeman B24
 

  Good

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