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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, June 29, 2012 2:40 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
A few dry thunderstorms popped up late yesterday evening which kept firefighters busy in some places, especially in Yellowstone County, where a few small grass fires were started by lightning. The added smoke from those small fires, combined with smoke “hanging around” from other large fires in the region, allowed particulate concentrations in Billings to rise a little bit today. The 24-hour average concentration is currently at MODERATE, though at any given hour, air quality has been GOOD. Similar conditions exist through much of southeastern and south-central Montana, as several, fairly small fires continue to burn uncontained. Air quality between Butte and Bozeman should be MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Everywhere else, air quality is GOOD.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for southeastern Montana tonight. A weak weather system and cold front are passing across eastern Montana today. The most noticeable effect is a wind shift from the southwest to the northwest behind the front. Visible satellite image (below) shows minor smoke produced in southeast Montana, but also shows that ahead of the cold front, transport winds are weak and the smoke is mostly spreading out in the region. By Saturday, transport winds will be mostly from the west and southwest. Temperatures will warm up and relative humidities will drop to critical fire levels across much of southern Montana in the afternoon. During this time, afternoon winds will also become breezy. On Sunday, a low pressure system will start to pass across the state. The atmosphere will be fairly moist and unstable, so more thunderstorms will be possible. Winds will also be strong along the frontal boundary. Only northwestern and far eastern parts of the state should see rain, but there is still a chance for some quick rain showers across central Montana where rain is much needed.

With increased fire danger and persistent dryness, fire activity will be monitored to keep up-to-date on smoke and air quality impacts.
A few small fires popped up late last night as some dry thunderstorms moved across the southern half of the state. Fire weather will be an issue this afternoon as well as Saturday, as it remains dry, hot, and breezy at times. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for southeastern Montana tonight, and more may be issued this weekend. A weather system and cold front will pass late Sunday into Monday, but gusty winds will again cause problems for existing fires. Aside from a chance of rain and thunderstorms Sunday night, and a very slight chance on Tuesday, the long-term forecast looks dry.
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. Some clouds have popped up today in association with the weak weather system moving through. Smoke plumes are not as visible, except the broad area of smoke from the Ash Creek fire in southeastern Montana.  

This is a visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon. Some clouds have popped up today in association with the weak weather system moving through. Smoke plumes are not as visible, except the broad area of smoke from the Ash Creek fire in southeastern Montana.


 
This is a webcam in Billings, looking towards the Beartooth Mountains. There is a little bit of haze over Billings today, but you still see the outline and snow on the mountains.

This is a webcam in Billings, looking towards the Beartooth Mountains. There is a little bit of haze over Billings today, but you still see the outline and snow on the mountains.


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 (Thursday, the 28th) 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 (Thursday, the 28th) 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

 Parts of Rosebud, Custer, and Powder River counties
Whitehall area
 

  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.