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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, July 30, 2012 2:20 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is GOOD at most reporting sites today. There are, however, a few sites reporting MODERATE 24-hour particulate concentrations, such as Frenchtown and Sidney. Satellite images from yesterday show a broad area of thin smoke across much of western and northern Montana. This smoke was mostly from fires in Idaho, Oregon, and parts of Canada. Across eastern Montana, a large smoke plume was seen from the fires in the wilderness west of Augusta. During the day yesterday, smoke traveled well above the ground to the east. As night settled in and the smoke came closer to the ground, parts of eastern Montana, including Sidney, Glendive, and Jordan saw MODERATE smoke impacts from these three fires, as well as ones just southwest of Fort Peck Lake. Also visible on satellite this morning, smoke settled heavily into the South Fork Flathead River and Sun River valleys within the Bob Marshall Wilderness. As of late this morning, smoke in those valleys, as well as across eastern Montana has dispersed and conditions have improved near the ground. Satellite images this afternoon (see below) show another small smoke plume starting to come out of the Bob Marshall again. However, given that surface winds are currently blowing mostly to the west, and this plume is blowing to the east, we can know that communities like Augusta and Great Falls are not going to see surface smoke impacts this afternoon. Only when the sun goes down and the surface starts to cool again, will the smoke start to settle towards the ground once more.

Temperatures are hot again today under the ridge of high pressure. There is a chance for thunderstorms late this evening, which could bring another round of lightning. On Tuesday, this huge ridge of high pressure will start to weaken. There will be another chance of thunderstorms, and most places east of the Divide will see low relative humidities again. Wednesday’s forecast is similar to Tuesday’s. By Thursday, the ridge breaks down even more with a large low pressure system coming inland from the Pacific shore. Winds will pick up on Thursday as the two opposing weather systems—the low pressure system and ridge of high pressure—come near each other. There will also be another increased risk of thunderstorms as a cold front is forecasted to sweep across the state late Thursday into Friday. By Friday, temperatures will be cooler and much more pleasant.
Air quality is GOOD at most reporting locations across the state today. Few places, like Frenchtown and Sidney, have seen minor smoke impacts from a broad area of thin smoke over the Northern Rockies. Some of this smoke is from Idaho, Oregon, Canada, and even here in Montana. There are currently three fires burning very near each other in the wilderness west of Augusta and Great Falls. A smoke plume from this fire is visible on satellite images this afternoon, but most, if not all, of the smoke is elevated away from the ground so as not to cause smoke impacts through this evening. The same is true for fires burning just southwest of Fort Peck Lake.
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 1:45 this afternoon. There are some clouds showing up over the mountainous terrain, and one large, white circle between the Little Belt Mountains and the Big Snowy Mountains. This is a thunderstorm, and more of these could pop up across the state through this evening. Also visible in this image is the smoke plume protruding east-northeast from the Bob Marshall Wilderness area. 

This is the visible satellite image from 1:45 this afternoon. There are some clouds showing up over the mountainous terrain, and one large, white circle between the Little Belt Mountains and the Big Snowy Mountains. This is a thunderstorm, and more of these could pop up across the state through this evening. Also visible in this image is the smoke plume protruding east-northeast from the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.


 





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. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. 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

 Frenchtown B24 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Missoula
Hamilton
Seeley Lake
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
Great Falls
Billings
Sidney
 

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.