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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, July 13, 2012 1:30 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Once again, air quality is being impacted from wildfire smoke, and the fires are everywhere. Smoke from fires in Idaho, Oregon, and even California, continues to blow over Montana. We are also seeing slight smoke impacts from fires in Canada. Finally, Montana has its own fires. Contained fires in southeastern Montana are still smoldering, the fire in the Bitterroots is still burning and growing, and new fires showed up—one on the north side of Yellowstone National Park and one in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Many reporting locations are showing 24-hour average particulate concentrations back up to MODERATE today. Currently, the hardest hit areas are in parts of southwestern Montana and in the Bitterroot Valley, where southernmost towns like Darby are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS.

The strong ridge of high pressure that has dominated our weather pattern for over a week is finally starting to break down and shift east. A huge area of low pressure is sitting over the Pacific Northwest and we are already starting to see impacts from it. Winds today are gusting over 20 mph in the plains and some western valleys. Clouds are also coming in, becoming more overcast. The cooler and more unsettled weather pattern will bring some moisture (rain!) into our area tonight, but the better chances for rain will be Saturday and Sunday as a few pulses of energy flow through the atmosphere. The rain and cooler temperatures should help fire suppression and improve the air quality over the weekend. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for Saturday in the southeastern counties, which will see less of the rain, cooler temperatures, and higher humidities. By the beginning of the work week, we will start another warming trend, though not as hot as this past week. The chances for widespread rain will turn into slight chances for isolated thunderstorms.
Smoke from all over (Oregon, Idaho, California, Canada, and Montana) is impacting air quality today. Many reporting locations are running 24-hour average particulate concentrations at MODERATE. See the bottom of the page for more information. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for southeastern Montana on Saturday in anticipation of gusty winds, low humidity, and thunderstorm chances. Most of western and northern Montana will see some relief this weekend from fire weather, smoke, and hot temperatures. The weather pattern will become slightly cooler, wetter, and more unsettled periodically Saturday and Sunday.
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 12:45 this afternoon. A large swath of clouds and moisture is coming up from the south/southwest. Rain is falling in southern Idaho, where many fires there have blown smoke here.  

This is a visible satellite image from 12:45 this afternoon. A large swath of clouds and moisture is coming up from the south/southwest. Rain is falling in southern Idaho, where many fires there have blown smoke here.


 
This webcam in Helena looks north to the Sleeping Giant, which is barely visible today, thanks to wildfire smoke.

This webcam in Helena looks north to the Sleeping Giant, which is barely visible today, thanks to wildfire smoke.


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 is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights 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 is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights 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 is the latest Drought Monitor across Montana, where about 60% of the state is at least abnormally dry. The rain that we are expecting this weekend won’t be a complete soaker, but at this point, any little bit of rain will help.

This is the latest Drought Monitor across Montana, where about 60% of the state is at least abnormally dry. The rain that we are expecting this weekend won’t be a complete soaker, but at this point, any little bit of rain will help.

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  Sidney B24, B8
  Moderate

 Helena B24, B8
Butte B24
Great Falls B24
Hamilton B24
Missoula B24
Frenchtown B24
Seeley Lake B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
West Yellowstone
Bozeman
Billings
 

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.