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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:30 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
A cold front that passed across the state yesterday brought very strong winds and some severe weather, but also brought cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity. Red Flag Warnings have all expired in Montana for today. However, we are still dealing with gusty winds this afternoon as the low pressure system responsible for the cold front yesterday tries to move east and high pressure builds in behind it.

Air quality in Helena has improved to GOOD today, as the Corral fire is not producing as much smoke and gusty winds are creating good dispersion. Fires between Butte and Bozeman continue to burn, and air quality downwind of those locations, including Bozeman, should be UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to MODERATE. Winds will persist through the afternoon, but will begin to die down as temperatures also drop for the evening. New fires that ignited across eastern Montana late yesterday also continue to burn today, as smoke is seen on satellite images. The Ash Creek Fire (near Ashland) in particular, is burning erratically today, producing heavy smoke and impacting towns to the northeast. Gusty winds across the plains today should also keep ground-level air quality mostly GOOD, except for those locations immediately downwind of these fires, where air quality should be UNHEALTHY or VERY UNHEALTHY.

A ridge of high pressure that is building in today from the west will stick around for the next several days. We can expect dry weather and a gradual warming trend through Sunday. Weak disturbances will pass through the atmosphere, and we will notice them as periods of increased cloud cover and gusty winds, especially on Friday. Also Thursday through Saturday, during the heating of the day, relative humidities will drop below 25% across much of the southern half of the state, and there will be periods of increased wind. A weather system and cold front should move through late Sunday through Monday to cool temperatures down again, and to bring the next best chance for rain, especially in the northwest and far east.
After a cold front passed yesterday, Red Flag Warnings were allowed to expire as weather conditions are much less favorable for extreme fire behavior and ignition. Less smoke produced today combined with strong west winds have brought air quality back to GOOD in most locations, except for places immediately downwind of fires in southwest and southeast Montana, where air quality is UNHEALTHY to VERY UNHEALTHY. Strong winds will die down this evening state-wide and the forecast for the rest of the week is dry with normal to above normal temperatures. The biggest fire weather concern will be in the southern half of the state, where for a few hours each afternoon, winds will increase and relative humidities will drop.
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




This is a visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon. The only visible smoke plumes in our state are to the southeast, where new fires ignited yesterday.  

This is a visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon. The only visible smoke plumes in our state are to the southeast, where new fires ignited yesterday.


 
This is a high-resolution satellite image from around noon today. The circled area is smoke from the Bear Trap 2 fire west of Bozeman.

This is a high-resolution satellite image from around noon today. The circled area is smoke from the Bear Trap 2 fire west of Bozeman.


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 (Tuesday, the 26th) 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 (Tuesday, the 26th) 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 

This webcam looks south from the Gates of the Mountains. Heavy smoke and haze that was seen around Helena earlier this week has now cleared out.

This webcam looks south from the Gates of the Mountains. Heavy smoke and haze that was seen around Helena earlier this week has now cleared out.

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  Locations immediately downwind of eastern Montana fires
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Miles City
  Moderate

 Bozeman 

  Good

 All other 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.