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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Saturday, August 24, 2013 5:56 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality has improved across the state today. On satellite, we can see a wide swath of wildfire smoke over eastern Montana that is high in the atmosphere and not affecting air quality at the ground. Other smoke that affected the state today, particularly across the far western valleys, was due to being in close proximity to wildfires and smoke settled into the valleys overnight. Air quality was UNHEALTHY in Lolo for several hours today, but has become GOOD this afternoon. In Missoula, Frenchtown, Seeley Lake, the Flathead Valley, and Hamilton, only cumulative particulate concentrations are at MODERATE levels, while hourly concentrations have been GOOD. The wildfires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness are also burning actively and a large smoke plume is visible on the satellite image below. Observed air quality in Choteau reached MODERATE levels overnight, but has remained GOOD for most of the day. Elsewhere around the state, air quality is GOOD at observing locations. Thunderstorms are developing across southwestern Montana and moving to the northeast. Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of southwestern and south-central Montana because of these thunderstorms.

The large size of these thunderstorms and the instability in the atmosphere will create generally good dispersion conditions throughout the night. Air quality will remain generally GOOD across the state, with MODERATE impacts possible across the southwest section of the state. The Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys can expect air that may become MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Sunday will likely be an active fire day. Winds will become gusty in the afternoon which can easily stir up existing wildfires. The other large threat is the chance for afternoon thunderstorms, which also can create locally strong winds and lightning. Air quality will remain generally GOOD to MODERATE across the state. However, the Missoula Valley, Seeley Lake, and Rocky Mountain Front may experience periods of air quality that is MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as winds push wildfire smoke downwind in the afternoon and evening. Winds will not be as strong by Monday, but the weather pattern will remain mostly unchanged next week. Temperatures will stay above average in the afternoon with a chance for isolated thunderstorms over the mountains. Smoke will blow from the southwest to northeast every day.
Air quality was UNHEALTHY in Lolo for several hours today, but has become GOOD this afternoon. In Missoula, Frenchtown, Seeley Lake, the Flathead Valley, and Hamilton, only cumulative particulate concentrations are at MODERATE levels, while hourly concentrations have been GOOD. The wildfires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness are also burning actively and a large smoke plume is visible on the satellite image below. Observed air quality in Choteau reached MODERATE levels overnight, but has remained GOOD for most of the day. Elsewhere around the state, air quality is GOOD at observing locations. Thunderstorms are developing across southwestern Montana and moving to the northeast. Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of southwestern and south-central Montana because of these thunderstorms.
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 5:15 this afternoon. Thunderstorms have developed over central Idaho and southwestern Montana this afternoon, causing those huge clouds. Across eastern Montana, high atmospheric wildfire smoke is drifting to the east. 

This is the visible satellite image from 5:15 this afternoon. Thunderstorms have developed over central Idaho and southwestern Montana this afternoon, causing those huge clouds. Across eastern Montana, high atmospheric wildfire smoke is drifting to the east.


 





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  
  Moderate

 Missoula B24, B8
Hamilton B24, B8
Flathead Valley B24
Frenchtown B24
Seeley Lake B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Helena
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.