Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates | Today's Air

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, June 25, 2012 3:20 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
This past weekend, we saw our first few forest fires of the season, thanks to ideal fire weather conditions. Both fires are relatively near each other, in the Bull Mountains and Tobacco Roots, between Butte and Bozeman. Transport wind has been from the southwest, so the smoke plume has impacted air quality and visibility in the Helena Valley and Great Falls. However, both locations remain GOOD
this afternoon.

A strong ridge of high pressure is responsible for the heat and fire weather that we have experienced for the past few days. Relative humidities have actually been quite a bit higher than we are used to east of the Divide, but strong heating in the afternoons has brought relative humidities below 10% in some places of southwest Montana, with strong winds mixing down to the surface. Such conditions this afternoon have allowed the existing fires to fire up again, with a visible smoke plume seen on satellite (below). Red Flag Warnings are in effect until 9:00 PM for much of the southern half of the state. Across northern Montana, relative humidities have been and will likely stay fairly high. A slight chance for severe storms is in place off the Rocky Mountain Front and across the east.

Tonight, inversions will trap smoke and pull it closer to the surface around Helena, White Sulphur Springs, Great Falls, and the surrounding areas, with air quality becoming MODERATE
by morning. Tomorrow, a low pressure system will finally make its way to the Northern Rockies to help ease some of the heat. Rain and some storms will pass across northwest Montana, including the northern Rocky Mountain Front, starting tomorrow morning. Unfortunately for the drier parts of the state, rain looks less likely anywhere else. A cold front will pass throughout the afternoon, so we will see strong winds again. Transport winds will switch from the south/southwest to the west by Wednesday, and fire concerns will greatly diminish by then.
There are two active wildfires between Butte and Bozeman, and smoke from these fires is impacting locations to the northeast, such as Helena, White Sulphur Springs, Great Falls, and beyond. Low relative humidity and strong winds this afternoon have prompted Red Flag Warnings for much of the southern half of Montana through 9:00 tonight. Smoke will continue to blow over the aforementioned locations this evening, with air quality becoming MODERATE
. Overnight inversions will trap the smoke until a cold front passes and transport wind shifts after Tuesday afternoon.
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




Visible satellite image from about 2:30 this afternoon shows the smoke plume from the fires between Butte and Bozeman.  

Visible satellite image from about 2:30 this afternoon shows the smoke plume from the fires between Butte and Bozeman.


 
This webcam from the Gates of the Mountains faces south, and you can see the wildfire smoke on the left side of the image. You can also see the haze settling into the Helena Valley.

This webcam from the Gates of the Mountains faces south, and you can see the wildfire smoke on the left side of the image. You can also see the haze settling into the Helena Valley.


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 and fire detects are based on yesterday's (Sunday, the 24th) 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 and fire detects are based on yesterday's (Sunday, the 24th) satellite coverage.

Red indicates hot spot detected. Green represents light smoke, yellow is moderately dense smoke, and pink 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 




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
  Hazardous  
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  
  Moderate

  

  Good

 All sites 

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.