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Wildfire Smoke Update
Friday, August 23, 2013 8:55 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions

Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Storms rolled through parts of western Montana yesterday evening. It is too early to know if lightning from any of these storms sparked any new wildfires, but we will keep an eye on any fire updates. Strong winds and some brief downpours also came from these storms. Air quality has improved slightly in the Bitterroot Valley this morning. Webcams show improved visibility and hourly particulate concentrations are GOOD in Hamilton; cumulative particulate concentrations are still UNHEALTHY. Winds and nearby thunderstorms overnight helped to mix and move smoke away from Lolo and the northern Bitterroot Valley early this morning. Air quality in Lolo is currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, which is better than the HAZARDOUS air we have seen for the last few mornings. Less smoke may be in Lolo this morning, but much of that smoke spread into the Missoula Valley. Cumulative particulate concentrations are currently UNHEALTHY in Missoula, with MODERATE air being observed for the last two hours. Smoke has even spread north into Frenchtown, where cumulative exposure just reached UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, while all hourly averages have been GOOD today. Likewise in the Flathead Valley, cumulative air quality is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS even though all hourly concentrations have been GOOD today. Current air quality is close to MODERATE levels in Bozeman. Around the rest of the state, despite perhaps a red sunrise, air quality is GOOD.

Monsoonal moisture will keep relative humidity values fairly high again today with decent cloud-cover. These two factors will help keep fire activity down again across western Montana. However, we have another chance for afternoon thunderstorms to develop and Red Flag Warnings are still in effect for parts of northwestern Montana because of these storms. Wind and lightning are a threat for wildfires today, so we will keep an eye on such activity. Air quality is expected to be generally GOOD around the state today. The greatest exception, of course, will be the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys. Air quality will remain variable in Missoula, but more MODERATE to UNHEALTHY hours are expected today. In Hamilton and most of the Bitterroot Valley, air quality will be GOOD to MODERATE at any given hour today, while cumulative exposures are expected to drop to levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Air quality will remain GOOD to MODERATE in Bozeman and nearby Livingston.
There will be another update later this afternoon with an update on the effects of last night’s storms and 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. We can see large patches of clouds all across the region today. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning. We can see large patches of clouds all across the region today.



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
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  Missoula B24, B8
Hamilton B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Lolo
Flathead Valley B24
Frenchtown B24

 Bozeman B24, B8 


Seeley Lake
West Yellowstone
Great Falls

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.