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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:32 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Wildfire smoke is affecting air quality in several parts of the state this morning. Across far western Montana, cumulative particulate concentrations are still at levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Frenchtown, Missoula, Hamilton, and Seeley Lake, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD since midnight. This wildfire smoke is coming from the Lolo Creek Complex, nearby Idaho fires, as well as some influence from the Rim fire in central California. Farther east, wildfire smoke settled into the Helena and Ovando Valleys, as well as Great Falls and the Rocky Mountain Front. This smoke, also from Idaho fires and the Rim fire, was carried over and brought to ground-level from weak thunderstorms that developed yesterday afternoon. Off the Rocky Mountain Front, extra smoke was added from the fires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Temporary air monitors show that observed air quality this morning is VERY UNHEALTHY in Choteau, and GOOD in Augusta. In Great Falls, cumulative particulate concentrations are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, and hourly concentrations have been MODERATE to GOOD all morning. In Helena, cumulative particulate concentrations are MODERATE, but all hourly concentrations have been GOOD since midnight as well. Around the rest of the state, observed air quality is GOOD. A line of thunderstorms across central Idaho grew overnight and is now a larger area of storms and rain just west of Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley, with scattered showers pushing into Montana.

These storms will move to the northeast and will help to remove some smoke out of the air through the morning. However, cumulative smoke exposure will remain UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in the far western valleys, while hourly concentrations remain generally GOOD. In Helena, smoke will start to lift out of the valley by late morning/early afternoon. Air quality should remain GOOD at each hour today, but cumulative smoke exposure will remain MODERATE. In Great Falls and towns on the Rocky Mountain Front, air quality will also improve in the early afternoon when air quality should become generally GOOD. The atmosphere will become more unstable today and extra moisture will kick off more afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures will still be hot in the afternoon with breezy afternoon and evening winds.
There will be another update later 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 8:00 this morning. The heavy cloud-cover across Idaho and western Montana is from the storms and showers mentioned in the report above. Wildfire smoke is still visible in the air over northeastern Montana, as well as other parts of the west, extending from central California north into eastern Washington. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:00 this morning. The heavy cloud-cover across Idaho and western Montana is from the storms and showers mentioned in the report above. Wildfire smoke is still visible in the air over northeastern Montana, as well as other parts of the west, extending from central California north into eastern Washington.


 
This webcam in Great Falls looks west towards the mountains, which are not visible this morning due to wildfire smoke.

This webcam in Great Falls looks west towards the mountains, which are not visible this morning due to wildfire smoke.





 




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  Choteau
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Frenchtown B24
Missoula B24
Hamilton B24
Seeley Lake B24
Great Falls B24
  Moderate

 Helena B24, B8
Lolo
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Malta
Lewistown
Billings
Birney
Broadus
Sidney
Augusta
 

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.