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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 3:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is GOOD at reporting sites today. Since the thunderstorms on Sunday and strong winds yesterday and today, fires have developed and grown, particularly in western Montana. The Chrandal Fire in the Bitterroot continues to grow, and the Mission fire near Wolf Creek and Great Falls has also grown to over 3000 acres in one day. A new fire also popped up this morning near Rogers Pass which has spread to the forest. Red Flag Warnings, particularly for high wind and low relative humidity, have been issued for much of central Montana, including the Rogers Pass area. The strong wind today is creating good dispersion, which is why we aren’t seeing broad areas of poor air quality, but come tomorrow and Thursday, dispersion conditions will deteriorate. Winds will not be as strong and a ridge of high pressure will build over the western US. The air will become more stagnant, even as the temperatures heat up and relative humidities stay fairly low. These fires, and any new ones, may continue to burn and grow, which may potentially create smoke impacts in the Bitterroot Valley, and east of the Rocky Mountain Front in Lewis and Clark and Cascade Counties. Visibility may also be reduced in the Big Belt Mountains, as seen from either the Helena Valley or near Great Falls. Air quality is GOOD at reporting sites today. Strong winds and low relative humidities have prompted Red Flag Warnings through late this evening for much of central Montana. Unfortunately in this Red Flag area, two known fires are burning in the mountains southwest of Great Falls. As of this afternoon, probably thanks to the strong winds, air quality is still GOOD in Great Falls and once you get out of the terrain. Moderate to poor dispersion is expected for the next two days, so this region of the state, along with the southern Bitterroot Valley, may see smoke impacts.
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 the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. The Clouds across far eastern Montana are remnants of yesterday’s cold front. Actually, just east of Fort Peck Lake, those very white clouds are severe thunderstorms, likely producing hail and damaging winds.  

This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. The Clouds across far eastern Montana are remnants of yesterday’s cold front. Actually, just east of Fort Peck Lake, those very white clouds are severe thunderstorms, likely producing hail and damaging winds.


 





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 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 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

  

  Good

 All reporting 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.