Wildfire Smoke Update
| Locations and Smoke Conditions
Thursday, July 19, 2012 2:00 PM
This is the visible satellite image from 1:00 this afternoon. Aside from some puffy clouds over the mountains, most of the clouds today are tens of thousands of feet above the ground and they are called cirrus clouds. They are mostly thin and wispy, but they are starting to become more overcast across west-central Montana. On a day where we see cirrus clouds, we also have a good chance of seeing contrails from airplanes, since that layer of the atmosphere is saturated enough to produce clouds from the water vapor in plane exhaust!
Today's Report and Forecast
Air quality is GOOD today at all reporting locations, and across most of the state. Through early this afternoon, we have been lucky again that there are no huge fires to speak of in Montana that are producing a lot of smoke, and we are also not being significantly impacted by smoke around the region. NOAA satellites picked up on thin smoke in far southeastern Montana yesterday from a fire in Wyoming, and today there was some very thin, high smoke found across eastern Montana, leftover from fires in Canada.
We have fairly stagnant conditions under a ridge of high pressure. That is why our temperatures are so hot and why we are dry again. Winds are light and variable to the west, and somewhat breezy in the plains and off the Rocky Mountain Front. Conditions are more favorable for fires today than earlier this week, but not enough to issue any Red Flag Warnings just yet. By tomorrow afternoon and through the night, a weather disturbance will pass through the Northern Rockies. There is a slight chance for thunderstorms and rain showers with this one, though not as prominent and widespread as what we saw a few days ago. Winds will be breezy as it passes in the latter part of the day. Once this weather system passes, we will start a slight cooling trend, although temperatures will continue to be at or above normal. Another weather system will pass on Tuesday next week, but as for right now, widespread precipitation does not look very likely across Montana.
Air quality is GOOD today across the state. There is some very thin smoke in the atmosphere across eastern Montana, but it is not having much, if any, of an impact on air quality at the ground. The hot and dry weather today is more favorable for fires, though it is not quite “Red Flag Warning” criteria. Fires may also be a concern tomorrow as a passing weather system may produce thunderstorms and gusty winds late in the day.
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
This webcam in great falls looks west towards the mountains. Almost all of the clouds in this image are the very high cirrus clouds.
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 thin smoke, yellow is moderate 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
Today's particulate report below compares particulate levels received from DEQ's
reporting stations with MTDEQ’s
Health Effect Categories.
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
to evaluate possible health risks and make informed