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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 12:24 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Hazy skies and MODERATE smoke impacts are still widespread across Montana today. Currently cumulative concentrations are MODERATE in Hamilton, Missoula, Great Falls, Flathead, and Broadus. The source of this smoke is from a number of different fires over the past few days. Smoke from California and Oregon has been lingering in a large, dispersed plume under a ridge of high pressure that is centered over Montana. In addition, the hot, dry conditions have caused wildfires in Idaho to flare up and send smoke into Montana. Lastly, there are fires in British Columbia that have sent smoke down into Eastern Montana. While some areas have seen air quality reach MODERATE levels, most of this smoke has stayed above ground level, resulting in hazy skies, but generally GOOD
air quality.

The ridge of high pressure responsible for this smoke event will continue to impact the area for a little while longer. This evening, a disturbance is expected to move through the southern portion of the state. Precipitation will most likely fall in southwest Montana, causing an improvement in that area, but it may not be large enough to flush out all the smoke that has built up. On Thursday, a cold front is expected to pass through from west to east. This front will bring breezier conditions and somewhat unsettled weather. Smoke will likely improve at most, or all, locations by tomorrow night. The improvement may be short lived, however, as another ridge of high pressure will begin building in by Friday evening.

Expect concentrations to range from GOOD
to MODERATE in most locations today. Areas of southwest Montana may see improvement tonight as a wave of precipitation is expected. Other areas may have to wait until tomorrow to see improvement, when increased winds and precipitation will hopefully flush out the smoke.
Smoke continues to linger across Montana today from a number of sources that have accumulated over the past five days under a stagnant, stable air mass. Southwest Montana may see clearing this evening as a disturbance passes through. A cold front moving through on Thursday will likely improve air quality across the state by Friday morning. Another ridge of high pressure is expected to build in Friday evening, so the improvement may be short-lived.
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




Cloudless skies are seen across Montana today, but the disturbance that will cause showers over southwest Montana this afternoon can be seen over Idaho. 

Cloudless skies are seen across Montana today, but the disturbance that will cause showers over southwest Montana this afternoon can be seen over Idaho.
Source: UCAR


 
The Helena Valley remains hazy even though air concentrations have remained good.

The Helena Valley remains hazy even though air concentrations have remained good.
Source: MT DEQ


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. 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  
  Moderate

 Hamilton
Missoula
Great Falls
Flathead Valley
Broadus
 

  Good

 All other reporting sites. 

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.