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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 23, 2013 3:45 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
We are actually seeing some smoke roll into western and central Montana today, and this smoke is primarily coming from a large wildfire in central California, almost 600 miles away! The smoke from this fire, combined with other fires in Idaho and western Montana, is filling up so much of the airspace that it is actually affecting air quality at ground-level this afternoon. Although hourly smoke concentrations have been GOOD all day today, cumulative concentrations, when averaged over the last 24 hours, has reached MODERATE levels in Seeley Lake, Helena, and Great Falls. A temporary air monitor in Choteau showed a jump in particulate matter late this morning and reached one hour of air quality that was UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS; it has since come down to MODERATE levels. Across far western Montana, smoke is still settled in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys. In Missoula, cumulative particulate concentrations remain at UNHEALTHY levels, while the last three hours have been GOOD. In Frenchtown, cumulative particulate concentrations are still at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, and hourly concentrations have risen this afternoon as well, most recently to MODERATE levels. Finally, in Hamilton, hourly concentrations have been GOOD almost all day today, and cumulative exposures have dropped to levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, down from UNHEALTHY levels. Elsewhere, air quality has been generally GOOD today. Thunderstorms are already popping up around southwestern Montana this afternoon and will continue through the evening.

Smoke from that California fire will continue to drift into Montana tonight and tomorrow morning. This smoke may cause widespread MODERATE air quality, especially near thunderstorms, where winds can pull smoke from high in the air down to the ground. Air quality will remain MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in the Bitterroot Valley through tomorrow morning, and MODERATE to UNHEALTHY from Lolo to Missoula. The weather will not change much for the next several days. Atmospheric winds will push smoke from the southwest to the northeast across the state, and skies will remain hazy thanks to smoke from Montana, Idaho, and California wildfires. Afternoon thunderstorms will also stay in the forecast and we will monitor any lightning start-ups in the coming days. Air quality will be GOOD to MODERATE across eastern, central, and parts of southwestern Montana through the weekend. Wildfire smoke will cause MODERATE to UNHEALTHY air in the Missoula, Bitterroot, and Paradise Valleys.
Although hourly smoke concentrations have been GOOD all day today, cumulative concentrations, when averaged over the last 24 hours, has reached MODERATE levels in Seeley Lake, Helena, and Great Falls. A temporary air monitor in Choteau showed a jump in particulate matter late this morning and reached one hour of air quality that was UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS; it has since come down to MODERATE levels. Across far western Montana, smoke is still settled in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys. In Missoula, cumulative particulate concentrations remain at UNHEALTHY levels, while the last three hours have been GOOD. In Frenchtown, cumulative particulate concentrations are still at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, and hourly concentrations have risen this afternoon as well, most recently to MODERATE levels. Finally, in Hamilton, hourly concentrations have been GOOD almost all day today, and cumulative exposures have dropped to levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, down from UNHEALTHY levels. Elsewhere, air quality has been generally GOOD today.
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 3:15 this afternoon. You can see some cumulus clouds across far northwestern Montana, and thicker clouds associated with thunderstorms across the southwest section of the state. Also visible on this image is smoke from wildfires in California, represented by the lighter gray color across the hi-line. 

This is the visible satellite image from 3:15 this afternoon. You can see some cumulus clouds across far northwestern Montana, and thicker clouds associated with thunderstorms across the southwest section of the state. Also visible on this image is smoke from wildfires in California, represented by the lighter gray color across the hi-line.


 
Some wildfire smoke, mostly from the Rim fire in California, is causing hazy skies in Helena this afternoon.

Some wildfire smoke, mostly from the Rim fire in California, is causing hazy skies in Helena 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 

Skies are also somewhat hazy from wildfire smoke here in Arlee in the Mission Valley.

Skies are also somewhat hazy from wildfire smoke here in Arlee in the Mission Valley.

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  Missoula B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Hamilton B24
Frenchtown B24, B8
  Moderate

 Lolo
Choteau
Helena B24
Great Falls B24
Seeley Lake B24
Bozeman B24
Birney B24
Flathead Valley B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Butte
West Yellowstone
Malta
Lewistown
Broadus
Sidney
Billings
 

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.