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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, June 28, 2012 3:30 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
With high pressure over the area, winds are much calmer and weather is more cooperative or controlling existing fires across Montana. On the other hand, we can expect fairly poor dispersion under a ridge of high pressure, so smoke today will likely have some impacts.

Fires in southwest Montana, between Butte and Bozeman, continue to burn today. Winds at the surface are light and variable, so smoke will create some haze. Air quality should remain mostly GOOD
to MODERATE. Fires across southeastern Montana also continue to burn today. Surface winds are also fairly light and variable, and haze and smoke can be seen on webcams along I-94. Air quality should be MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, especially closer to the fires. As the afternoon progresses, stronger winds aloft should mix down to the surface, providing better dispersion to blow the smoke east.

This ridge of high pressure will stick around for the next two days. Temperatures will warm up each day and we will stay dry. Fire weather will be of some concern in the afternoon hours during the peak heating of the day, when relative humidities drop below 25%, especially in the southern half of the state, and stronger winds aloft will mix down to the surface, making things a little more breezy. By Sunday afternoon, a low pressure system will start to impact western Montana and a cold front is anticipated to pass late Sunday through Monday. With this weather system, winds will be gusty and we will see our first real chance of rain. As of right now, the best chances of rain look to be west of the Divide and across far eastern Montana, but a few pop-up showers and storms are also possible across the dry, central section of the state.
With high pressure over the area, winds are much calmer and weather is more cooperative or controlling existing fires across Montana. Dispersion is mostly poor, so smoke and haze will be seen in the vicinity of active fires. Air quality across southwestern Montana will be GOOD to MODERATE, and across southeastern Montana where larger fires are burning, air quality will be MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS around and downwind of those fires. Elsewhere, GOOD air quality is expected. The weather will stay pretty quiet and dry for the next few days, where the biggest fire concern lies in the afternoon hours when peak heating will increase winds and drop relative humidity values. Our next best chance of rain and another cold front will be late Sunday into Monday.
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 2:25 this afternoon. Under the ridge of high pressure, skies are mostly clear. Current fires are not producing as much smoke, but we can also see that transport winds are fairly weak, allowing smoke to spread out rather than quickly move downwind.  

This is a visible satellite image from 2:25 this afternoon. Under the ridge of high pressure, skies are mostly clear. Current fires are not producing as much smoke, but we can also see that transport winds are fairly weak, allowing smoke to spread out rather than quickly move downwind.


 
This is the Sweeney Creek webcam along I-94, between Miles City and Forsyth. The satellite image above shows that there are no clouds over this area, so what we see here is smoke from the Ash Creek fire.

This is the Sweeney Creek webcam along I-94, between Miles City and Forsyth. The satellite image above shows that there are no clouds over this area, so what we see here is smoke from the Ash Creek fire.


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 (Wednesday, the 27th) 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 (Wednesday, the 27th) 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  Parts of Rosebud, Custer, and Powder River Counties
  Moderate

 Areas in vicinity of fires in Southwest Montana 

  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.