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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 8:54 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Parts of western and central Montana are waking up once again to red sunrises and milky, hazy skies from wildfire smoke from central California. As in days past, this smoke is so high in the atmosphere that it is not affecting air quality at ground-level. The smoke that is affecting air quality is from Idaho and nearby Montana wildfires. The smokiest part of the state this morning is of course the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys, and other nearby valleys like the Big Hole and southern Swan Valleys. Observed air quality in Frenchtown, Missoula, and Hamilton show that cumulative particulate concentrations are at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but all hourly concentrations have been GOOD this morning. Most other observing locations are reporting GOOD air quality this morning.

Temperatures will be hot again this afternoon with low relative humidity and breezy afternoon winds. Thunderstorm activity will decrease slightly today, and most thunderstorms will be confined to the mountains of southwestern and far western Montana. Strong, erratic winds are possible from these thunderstorms as they develop in the afternoon and early evening hours. High atmospheric winds will continue to blow from the southwest to northeast. Smoke conditions will be similar today as they have been for the past couple of days. The Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys will continue to see cumulative particulate concentrations that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, with hourly concentrations between GOOD and MODERATE. Air quality will be GOOD to MODERATE off the Rocky Mountain Front, as well as the Paradise Valley and areas northeast of the Absaroka Range. Skies may appear to be hazy across much of the western half of the state throughout the day thanks to that high atmospheric smoke, but air quality will generally remain GOOD at all other locations.
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.

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 8:15 this morning. Skies are mostly clear over the Northern Rockies, which gives us a clearer view of the wildfire smoke that is blowing in from central California. That smoke, the light gray color, is easiest to see over western Nevada, eastern Oregon, and western Idaho. Smoke is less concentrated over Montana, but that smoke is visible from northwestern Montana to the east end of the cloud band over the southeastern corner of the state. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:15 this morning. Skies are mostly clear over the Northern Rockies, which gives us a clearer view of the wildfire smoke that is blowing in from central California. That smoke, the light gray color, is easiest to see over western Nevada, eastern Oregon, and western Idaho. Smoke is less concentrated over Montana, but that smoke is visible from northwestern Montana to the east end of the cloud band over the southeastern corner of the state.


 
Skies appear to be a little hazy in the far distance over Red Lodge this morning.

Skies appear to be a little hazy in the far distance over Red Lodge this morning.


This webcam at the Big Hole Pass shows some smoke in the Big Hole Valley.

This webcam at the Big Hole Pass shows some smoke in the Big Hole Valley.

Red indicates hot spot detected. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. 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  Frenchtown B24
Missoula B24
Hamilton B24
  Moderate

 Seeley Lake B24
Sidney B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
Malta
Lewistown
Billings
Birney
Broadus
 

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.