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Wildfire Smoke Update
Monday, August 29, 2016 2:16 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions

Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
An Air Quality Alert has been issued for Gallatin County and Sanders County in effect until further notice due to nearby wildfire activity. Significant air quality impacts are expected in the southern portion of Gallatin County near Yellowstone National Park. Significant air quality impacts are seen in Thompson Falls due to recent nearby fire activity and favorable conditions. This alert will be updated again at 900AM on August 30, 2016.

An Air Quality Alert means that particulates have been trending upwards and that an exceedance of the 24 hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) has occurred or may occur in the near future.

Particulate levels in West Yellowstone are Very Unhealthy

Particulate levels in Thompson Falls are Very Unhealthy

When air quality is Very Unhealthy... State and local health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

Air quality trends have been similar to yesterday in that more locations have experienced haze and ground-level impacts. The Air Quality Alert is maintained in Gallatin County due to the impacts seen at the West Yellowstone monitor. We saw a large spike during the 7:00-8:00AM hour this morning, likely due to stagnant air and the accumulation of smoke from the fires in the park. West Yellowstone is currently reporting VERY UNHEALTHY. Concentrations in Thompson Falls have recently started climbing, and has pushed the monitor into the VERY UNHEALTHY category as of the 10-11AM hour, and has continued to climb, prompting an Air Quality Alert. This is attributed to nearby fire activity from the Copper King fire and favorable conditions for smoke to drain down the valley. Hamilton saw elevated concentrations overnight which pushed it into VERY UNHEALTHY, but is currently reporting UNHEALTHY from cumulative 24-hour exposures. This looks to be a result of a light south-southwest wind before midnight last night. Butte has climbed to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS levels by late this morning as well, and looks to be in line with smoke transported from central Idaho fires.

-The Copper King fire near Thompson Falls is 24,017 acres and 15% contained with active fire behavior.
-The Maple fire near West Yellowstone is 31,404 acres and 0% contained with moderate fire behavior.
-The Pioneer fire near Boise, ID is currently 109,594 acres and 55% contained with active fire behavior.

Weather today is forecasted to be warmer with the building ridge creating a dominant southwest wind aloft. This warmer weather seems to have prompted increased fire activity which has caused more smoke impacts around the state. Widespread impacts are expected to continue as the favorable conditions continue for fire activity and smoke transport.

Expect impacts to reach (or maintain) MODERATE to UNHEALTHY in southwest Montana into tonight and tomorrow morning, as smoke gets pushed from central Idaho fires. Hamilton and the Missoula valley project to see smoke coming from the Selway-Bitterroot fires, and could maintain MODERATE to UNHEALTHY levels. West Yellowstone may improve some, but still could maintain UNHEALTHY levels through the day from the fires in the park. Thompson Falls is seeing impacts from local fire activity and may stay UNHEALTHY or worse. Northwest Montana is more clear of smoke transport but still could see impacts from the Copper King fire as well if a stronger southwest wind picks up, and may be MODERATE to USG. In other places more to the east, expect MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as smoke makes its way across the state.

Similar weather conditions are forecasted for tomorrow, which should not bring significant changes we are seeing today, unless we add new fire activity to the list of smoke sources.
Air quality is GOOD to MODERATE at most locations this morning. West Yellowstone is at VERY UNHEALTHY due to the nearby fires in Yellowstone National Park. Thompson Falls is being impacted again by the Copper King fire and is reporting VERY UNHEALTHY and prompted an Air Quality Alert. Southwest Montana, Hamilton, and the Missoula valley will likely see impacts being downwind of active fires in Idaho. All other locations are currently reporting GOOD, but may see increased settled smoke by early morning tomorrow.
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.

Air Quality Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Phone: (406) 444-3490
Email: DEQMTSmoke@mt.gov

West Yellowstone has cleared up some compared to earlier this morning (screenshot captured a little after noon). 

West Yellowstone has cleared up some compared to earlier this morning (screenshot captured a little after noon).
Source: WestYellowstoneWebcams.com

Smoke and haze visible in southeast Montana yesterday.

Smoke and haze visible in southeast Montana yesterday.
Source: NASA

Satellite smoke analysis from this morning showing sources and likely impacts.

Satellite smoke analysis from this morning showing sources and likely impacts.

Source: NOAA 

Current large active fires.

Current large active fires.
Source USFS

Real time particulate information is currently available in most of the larger urban areas from MTDEQ's Today's Air website.

Today's particulate report below compares particulate levels received from DEQ's
reporting stations with MTDEQ’s Health Effect Categories.

Locations and severity of PM 2.5 particulate values over the past 24 hours from the time above.
Health Effects Categories City
  Very Unhealthy  West Yellowstone.
Thompson Falls.
  Unhealthy  Hamilton
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Missoula

Seeley Lake


 All other reporting locations. 

B1(x) One-hour BAM value (number of values)
B8(x) Eight-hour average BAM
B24 24 hour  average BAM value
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.